While Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin hasn’t yet ruled out starting center Maurkice Pouncey from playing Friday night in the team’s preseason opener against the Giants, it’s not hard to speculate that he’ll be one of several players who won’t ultimately participate in the contest due to some sort of leg injury that has prevented him from practicing in training camp the last several days.
With Pouncey more than likely going to be sidelined Friday night in New York, his backup, B.J. Finney, will likely start in his place and he’ll definitely be a player to watch while in the game and especially when he plays center.
While Finney, a former undrafted free agent center out of Kansas, played well last season in the few games he started at left guard in place of injured starter Ramon Foster, his limited play at center during the year was far less impressive.
During a recent interview with Teresa Varley of steelers.com, Finney admitted that he’s looking forward to playing quite a bit at center Friday night against the Giants because he needs work at that particular position.
“Obviously, center’s a part of the game that I need to develop on – didn’t have some strong showings last year,” Finney said. “So, just getting those reps, it’s big for me.”
He later added, “It’s going to be big for me to get those reps and to be able to show that I’m improving at center.”
Finney was later asked what specific areas he’s looking to show improvement in during the preseason.
“Honestly, just being more comfortable in the playbook,” he said. “Knowing all sorts of different stuff and meeting with Munch [offensive line coach Mike Munchak] and going through details and stuff like that and just having that better understanding of what I’m supposed to be doing mentally will help me play that much faster and better.”
While Finney sang the praises of having Pouncey and Munchak at his disposal when it comes to learning how to become a better player, he’s also quite pleased to have former Steelers guard Alan Faneca working with him during training camp this year as a coaching intern.
“Obviously, you’ve got a guy that’s waiting to get into the Hall of Fame and should be in the Hall of Fame and anytime you get that kind of knowledge and experience to add on top of what we already have, its huge,” Finney said of Faneca. “So, it’s a lot of fun, it’s great to have him.”
While we’ll have to wait and see which players the Giants ultimately decide to holdout Friday night, there’s a good chance we’ll likely see defensive tackle Damon Harrison get some limited playing time for them. If he does, it will be interesting to see how Finney fares against him as well as fellow Giants defensive tackle Jay Bromley.
Harrison a former undrafted free agent out of William Penn, reportedly measures in at around 6-3, 341-pounds. Last season, Harrison was voted first team All-Pro by the Associated Press after registering 86 total tackles and 2.5 sacks. Bromley, on the other hand, who is a much more inexperienced player than Harrison, is listed at 6-3, 314-pounds.
“Jay’s having a good camp so far,” Giants head coach Ben McAdoo said recently of Bromley. “He’s playing physical, playing with a good base, and that’s a good starting point for him. I look forward to seeing him again in the preseason games. Big year for Jay.”
In summation, make sure to watch Finley closely Friday night and after the game is over, he’ll likely be one of several subjects in of our weekly Film Room breakdowns.