Impact Of Pouncey Injury Difficult To Quantify As Line Adjusts To New Normal

By Matthew Marczi

Anybody who watched the Pittsburgh Steelers offense earlier this week will attest to the inefficacy and inefficiency displayed along the offensive line, as well as the tight ends. Even the running backs and wide receivers had a rough day in their off the ball assignments.

Obviously, the offensive line was struck a big blow very early in the game when the Steelers failed to execute a chop block on the nose tackle. The result of the play was right guard David DeCastro coming down upon center Maurkice Pouncey’s right knee.

Pouncey tore his ACL and MCL on the play and was subsequently placed on season-ending injured reserve. But for the sake of the offensive line, they must hope that the lingering effects of that injury were at their worst immediately following the unfortunate incident, because the line cannot continue to play as it did in the season opener.

But just how much was the offensive line impacted this past Sunday by Pouncey’s injury during the game, both physically and mentally? Realistically, it is difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the answer to such a question, but if body language and performance is any indication, it is fair to say that it was on the players’ minds.

DeCastro, in particular, was affected by the injury, of course, as it was the result of his attempted cut block that ultimately resulted in the injury occurring in the first place, and he was visibly upset with himself and holding and pulling down his helmet on his head while Pouncey was being attended to.

There was such a small body of work from which to compare the line’s performance before the injury and after it, because it occurred so early in the game. It was clear afterward, however, that they were not performing up to task, which former Steelers offensive lineman Craig Wolfley pointed out during Steelers Live earlier in the week, saying that he felt that DeCastro in particular took a while to get back into the rhythm of the game.

With reports surfacing that Fernando Velasco will start at center, the hope is that the line will be able to settle into its new normal beginning on Monday night. The good thing is that the offensive line was already highly inexperienced in terms of playing with one another, so one last moving part should not be that damaging from a chemistry perspective.

Velasco is the new anchor of the offensive line, and even if he has a bit of a learning curve to work with, there are reports that Ramon Foster will assist in the line calls, and one would think that he should be able to be fully up to speed following the Bye at worst.

Kelvin Beachum, all things considered, turned in an admirable performance in the circumstances, having not received any reps at center during that week of practice according to Todd Haley and only having limited in-game exposure at the position in the final preseason game. It is clear that he is not a natural center, however, and Tunch Ilkin, another former Steeler, believes that having a natural center in there is the way to go as well.

With Beachum returning to the tight end position this week—presumably—that position should benefit as well as it continues to nurse back to health its injured members. The Pouncey injury was a shock to the system, and it clearly affected the way the team played earlier this week, but there must be no carryover into Week Two in order for the Steelers to be successful either on the ground or through the air.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • pittsburghjoe

    Matthew, how about if I take a contrary point of view? I think Pouncey may be the most overrated lineman in all of football. So in essence, we have the most overrated lineman serving as the “anchor” of one of the worst offensive lines in all of football. So what is the net effect? We go from bad to worse? Here is what I think; Velasco steps in, and in a relatively short period of time, he plays well and we will be saying Maurkice who? Yeah, it may take a couple of precious games, that they can ill afford to mortgage. However, this injury may have just saved the steelers alot of money. He is coming up on a new contract at the end of next year and the steelers may have been inclined to overpay for the guy. Maybe the injury and the corresponding rehab period will change their minds. At a minimum, he should be tarred and feathered for recommending Marcus Gilbert in the draft.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I do think Pouncey is overrated however I think he is still a good lineman. If Velasco does play well like I have others say and agree Pouncey could be moved to G. I do agree that he not only recommened Gilbert who is our worst OL but do not forget Rainey who he stood behind.

  • Mike Carroll

    I think this will be a telling game for DeCastro. I expect him to bounce back with a good game, because he should have all the motivation in the world after last week. Plus, he’s faced this team last year so he should have a better idea of what to expect.

  • pittsburghjoe

    How could I forget Rainey? The guy was never picked up by another NFL team. Not even the Raiders. So his claim to fame so far is 2 bad referrals and a stupid hat supporting an alleged murderer. I agree, he is good and nothing more! Pro Bowl? Absolutely not! In a way, I hope he goes away and we find another “good” replacement.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    I’d like to hear your thoughts on why exactly you think he’s overrated?

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Why exactly do you think Pouncey is overrated?

  • Christopher Wilkes

    DeCastro needs to wake the fug up! It’s bad enough he took out Pouncey on one of the stupidest injury plays I’ve seen in NFL history, but then he proceeds to sulk the rest of the game. He HAS to be our best O-lineman, so he better start acting like it.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Pouncey does a very good job on DT’s that are not bigger guys but once you get to the larger DT’s or NT’s he struggles with them. Like I said he is a good OL I do not think he was a All Pro last year but he is our best OL right now.

  • SteelerCop

    Pouncey is the best lineman we have…has been voted to the pro bowl by his peers…he is arguably the best center in the NFL…AND YOU WANT TO GET RID OF HIM….WOOOOOOOOOW!

  • SteelerCop

    All our linemen need to step it up! They couldn’t run or pass block last week…They looked horrible! #SMH

  • pittsburghjoe

    Summary from Audibles.Com on why he is overrated (2012)….Four sacks allowed (only the now-retired Todd McClure of the Falcons allowed more among centers in 2012) and seven quarterback hits and hurries allowed (fourth among centers with at least 750 snaps) because Ben Roethlisberger has a tendency to run into pressure at the best of times. But power centers need to dominate in the run game, and Pouncey had six blown blocks in that department. In addition, the Steelers ranked 31st up the middle in FO’s Adjusted Line Yards metric, which puts the focus on the center to a large degree.
    Pouncey struggled through injuries last year, and most of the Steelers’ offensive line was a problem, but more should be expected from a guy perceived as the best in the game at his position. Pouncey was good in 2012, but he’ll need a rebound in the new season if he’s to live up to his reputation.

  • pittsburghjoe

    I dont think it will be hard finding a “good” center. We may already have him on the roster (Velasco). Pouncy is “good” and nothing more. He is nowhere near the best center in the game or even pro bowl quality. Good players dont belong in the pro bowl. The game is reserved for the best.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Yeah, so he had a bad year, but he’s still our best O-lineman, and probably our 3rd best player on offense.

  • HopalongCassidy

    Pouncey was way over-rated….no big loss. However, the other linemen also stink, especially Gilbert.

  • HopalongCassidy

    Really ?

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Yep. That’s the way I see it, anyways. Ben, Heath, Maurkice… then maybe AB. I don’t think anyone else qualifies for 5th.

  • Callentown

    Velasco rated higher than Pouncey last year and was released by his team this year. Pouncey may not be as good as we first thought. Still would have been nice to have him for the year to see how the new line could come together eventually.