As the preseason progresses, it certainly seems to be looking more and more as though the Pittsburgh Steelers have a right side of the offensive line in place that could remain together and play at a high level for several years to come.
The right side should experience significant improvements over last season, from David DeCastro gaining more experience to Marcus Gilbert staying healthy and improving his technique and demeanor under Mike Munchak.
But the biggest difference from last season is unquestionably the return of center Maurkice Pouncey, who put together his best performance of the preseason last week against the Philadelphia Eagles and was one of the few highlights for the Steelers on either side of the line of scrimmage.
On the Steelers’ first play on offense, he began by walking nose tackle Bennie Logan down the line before working upfield to block Mychal Kendricks. Unfortunately, Kelvin Beachum failed to cut block the nose tackle, and the play only went for two yards.
Further on during the opening drive, the Eagles rotated their linemen, and Pouncey was able to stand up Beau Allen at the line of scrimmage, turning and sealing him to create a lane for Le’Veon Bell, who gained eight yards behind the block.
Early in the second quarter, Pouncey showed good burst off the line of scrimmage and worked a double team with left guard Ramon Foster to push defensive end Brandon Bair upfield several yards. While Bair was able to slip off the block after a while when Pouncey lost his footing, he arrived late to the play.
Skipping further past two more drives that ended in an interception and a three-and-out, the Steelers found themselves back up to their own seven-yard line. LeGarrette Blount ran in the opposite direction on first down for six yards, but employed a cutback to utilize Pouncey’s block on Cedric Thornton to make something out of nothing.
While he admittedly got away with a bit of a hold on Thornton’s jersey, Pouncey did a good job of keeping his hands inside and staying with the defensive end as he twisted, pushing him to the ground at the end of the play.
On the next play, Pouncey took off upfield on the snap and blew up Kendricks, pushing him back six yards and well out of the play as the Steelers managed an easy first down in short yardage.
The overall performance was a good showing that highlighted the center’s mobility, which was certainly missed a year ago.