Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey had been out of football for about 11 months prior to the team’s preseason opener against the New York Giants a week ago. As we all know, he played just eight snaps of the 2013 season before a friendly fire impact tore up his knee and landed him on injured reserve.
So it was with more than a little interest that I watched the former All-Pro lineman take the field for the first time in close to a year to see how that knee would respond to real in-game wear and tear and unpredictability.
Any lingering doubts about Pouncey’s ability to generate efficient power off that surgically repaired knee were quickly wiped away from the Steelers’ first offensive snap, however, when nearly the entire offensive line generated great push off the line of scrimmage.
Off the snap, Pouncey and David DeCastro drove off the ball and worked a double team on defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, backing him up three yards off the line of scrimmage. Once Jenkins was passed on to DeCastro, Pouncey turned up field to seal off linebacker Jacqiuan Williams to give Le’Veon Bell room to run.
On second and one, the following play, Pouncey took on Jenkins on his own, sticking to his inside shoulder to keep him out of Bell’s running lane until he was out of reach. While he fell off the block toward the end, his objective had already been accomplished.
On the next play, Pouncey was able to get on the move, heading downfield to block for Dri Archer’s long reception, even if he didn’t manage to connect with anybody, as Giants defenders were able to elude the blocks of both himself and DeCastro.
After that, however, it was back to the trenches. It’s a bit difficult to discern exactly what is going on in this play, but Pouncey begins by double-teaming Jenkins once again with the help of DeCastro. Afterward, he peeled off the initial block in order to push Williams into the backfield and out of harm’s way.
Late in his stay in the game, we did get to see Pouncey on the move a bit successfully blocking down the field on a passing play. As the Steelers were facing third and eight, the center, with nobody lined up in front of him, quickly chipped on Jenkins before peeling out up field—and getting an (inadvertent?) assist from Lance Moore in the process.
As Moore collided with Jameel McClain at midfield, Pouncey was able to reposition himself in front of the linebacker to shield him from Bell’s path, although he wound up being short of the first down.