Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey is entering his fifth season in the NFL, the first three of which landed him in the Pro Bowl and the first- or second-team All-Pro list. His fourth season ended almost as soon as it began.
Pouncey as of right now is approximately eight months removed from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee that he suffered in the Steelers’ opening game. Just eight snaps into the contest, right guard David DeCastro misjudged a cut block and dove into the back of Pouncey’s knee.
He’s getting close to full capacity, and seems as though he could be ready to return to the starting lineup without missing a beat. Offensive line coach Mike Munchak even joked that his biggest concern with Pouncey going forward is making sure that he relaxes and takes his time:
“He’s doing well. When you’re a player as competitive as he is and you get hurt in the opener, you can’t wait to play your first game, so the hardest part for him is probably relaxing, and realizing that we don’t play until September”.
With workouts having resumed, Pouncey is out there working with his teammates. He told the Steelers’ website in late April that he would be there for OTAs, focusing on individual drills, with maybe some live reps. In fact, he surprised himself with how far he’d come:
“When this first happened, I thought I was going to be out for the longest time. I was never expecting to be walking like this now, to be able to do all the things I could do in the weight room. I never thought it. I wish I could say I was fully back, but I’m pretty close”.
That was close to a month ago.
Ben Roethlisberger was recently asked about how far Pouncey had come from his injury, saying that “it’s great to see him back out there. I think he is doing a great job. He is working hard. That is your security blanket”.
Pouncey still has more than two months to go before he gets a chance to play in a game, albeit in the preseason. But considering how long it’s been since he’s been able to take a snap, he may be looking for all the reps he can get.
Knee injuries are never certain, but Pouncey seems to be on track to make a full recovery. The Steelers struggled without him last season, and were forced to alter their approach in terms of blocking schemes along the offensive line.
Because of his athleticism and mobility, the Steelers were able to do things with him that, as shown last year, they couldn’t do effectively with players such as Fernando Velasco and Cody Wallace.
While Max Starks recently made a full recovery from a December ACL tear to play every snap in the next season, his position requires less mobility, and thus less strain on the knee.
All signs have been pointing in the positive direction, however, and the Steelers are looking forward to taking the next step toward achieving the offensive line they envisioned putting together with all of these high draft picks after so many steps back.