The Pessimist’s Take: Return To Form For Maurkice Pouncey

The Pittsburgh Steelers have, by and large, been on an upward swing over the course of the past two and a half seasons after they missed the playoffs for two straight seasons, and failed to win a postseason game in four straight years.

Last season saw them gain that elusive playoff victory, though they came up short with about three minutes left in the Divisional round a week later. Their offense took off, and their defense improved, showing playmaking ability and opportunism.

But there are still a lot of unanswered questions facing the team as we crack into free agency territory. As an exercise, we like to take a stab at some of those questions, presenting arguments for the pros and cons of each side of the coin. This is the pessimist’s take on the following question.

Question: How will Maurkice Pouncey bounce back from injury after missing the entirety of the 2015 season?

In spite of the fact that he was drafted all the way back in 2010 already, a fact that is beginning to become hard to imagine, Steelers All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey will only turn 27 in late July as he enters his seventh professional season.

That is, at least, one factor in his favor as he continues to rehabilitate from an Achilles injury that has obviously proven to be a fair bit more serious than initially projected by some degree. The veteran suffered the injury during a preseason game as he was rolled up on in the process of advancing upfield to throw a block.

It was a fluke injury, but the nature through which the injury came about is immaterial, of course, from his ability to heal from it. Initially projected to likely be able to return, perhaps, late in the regular season, the Steelers placed Pouncey on the injured reserve list with a designation to return, but as the season developed, it slowly became increasingly obvious that he would not, in fact, return.

There were reports over the course of the season, though none actually verified, that he may have had to deal with an infection, and a second surgery, over the course of his recovery, which would obviously prolong recovery. That the Steelers have also potentially been kicking the tires on some veteran offensive linemen also gave some pause.

While I fully expect Pouncey to return to the field during the 2016 season, however, one might wonder just in what sort of form we will find him upon his return. In his favor is the fact that we already have recent experience viewing his return from a prolonged and serious injury after he turned in arguably the finest performance of his career in 2014 after missing nearly all of 2013 with a torn ACL.

But the nature of every injury is unique, and subject to variables that cannot be fully accounted for. Pouncey has already clearly had complications in his rehabilitation process, which should give anyone pause as they anticipate his return to the playing field. The mounting number of injuries certainly do not aid in his body’s ability to perform at peak efficiency, which would be an especial concern for a player widely regarded for his mobility.

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