A little over a month ago, Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey gave his word that he would be ready to go at the beginning of OTAs following a season during which he missed all but eight snaps due to a torn ACL.
Yesterday, he made good on that, declaring himself “full-go” while joining his teammates on the first-team offense in jerseys and helmets.
According to reports, Pouncey helped erase doubts about his health on his first snap from scrimmage when he took off to the second level to block out Ryan Shazier.
The rookie evidently inadvertently sent the veteran tumbling to the grass after shaking off the block, but Pouncey shot right back up.
Scott Brown at ESPNconfirms that Pouncey practiced without restrictions yesterday, approximately eight months following reconstructive knee surgery.
He reported that the knee gave him “no problems at all”, adding that he “was able to block guys and finish on some plays”.
As I wrote last week, Pouncey felt that he was getting close a little over a month ago, which is a far cry from how he felt when it first happened.
Then, he expected that he “would be out for the longest time”, but by the spring, he was doing things he “never expected” would be possible at that point.
Yesterday, he said that it was a couple months back that he believed he’d turned the corner in his recovery process.
“I started feeling really great”, he said, “especially in the weight room. To come out here on the football field and do it is awesome. It was big for my coaches to see it, my teammates to see it, and for me, it was pretty cool”.
His teammates were happy to remind us of how important Pouncey is to the offense and to the team, in case the past year has washed away some of those memories. He was voted a team captain for the first time last season, and this year he will be able to show it on the field.
“It’s an honor to have our captain back to control the ball on every snap”, Antonio Brown said on what it means to see the All-Pro center back out on the practice field.
The fellow draft classmates are the only Steelers draftees to earn such a distinction since 2007 draftee LaMarr Woodley was named an All-Pro in 2009.
Unsurprisingly, of course, it was the man under center who gave Pouncey the warmest welcome in the return, all the while maintaining his belief that he could have played at the end of last season, such is his confidence in his offensive line anchor.
“He’s a comfort blanket, and he’s a leader of this team and a leader of the offensive line”, said Ben Roethlisberger. “It’s just good to see him out there because he’s a football player and he loves the game. It was great to see as a friend. He’s a guy that worked so hard to get back out here, and it’s fun to see him back in the pads”.