You might recall an article that I wrote sometime within the past week or so about how Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey thought at times during his recovery from the complications of a fractured fibula in 2015 that his career was going to be over, as he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
During the course of that process, the All-Pro center suffered not one, but two separate infections, and ultimately was forced to undergo something like seven surgeries. One cannot help but wonder if he was actually even at 100 percent last season, which ended in yet another Pro Bowl designation, his fifth in five healthy seasons.
The former first-round draft pick stayed remarkably healthy throughout the year, which is something that he owes at least in part to his offensive line coach, Mike Munchak, who, he told the Gazette, gave him some instructions on how to keep himself clean on the field. I wanted to detail some of that here.
“I came back from blowing my knee out and the things he taught me to help me out being an offensive lineman and the techniques he used, seeing things differently during the game, I appreciate him more than anything,”, he told the paper.
Pouncey said that one strategy Munchak told him to employ was “sitting back off the ball more, not trying to kill a guy on every single play”. He said that “running off the ball, you can shuffle and get the guy and still have the same kind of great block. Those are things he taught me”.
Munchak told the paper that his process in helping Pouncey was essentially about improving his technique. “Sometimes you can get away with doing things at a high level without a lot of technique”, he said, but “eventually your career, no matter who you are, you’re going to have to rely on that technique because you’re going to slow down or your game is going to change”.
The veteran line coach—and Hall of Fame player—said that Pouncey “already had some good technique”. But he did say that he probably taught him “some things he hadn’t seen or done before”.
Of course, some of the injuries that the former Gator suffered, including the two severe, season-ending injuries, didn’t have a whole lot to do with himself, but rather depending upon him getting hit from behind, once in friendly fire.
There is ultimately only so much that you can do as an athlete in the NFL to protect yourself and keep your body out of harm’s way. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t wise to be proactive, especially as you get deeper into your career.
Pouncey is understanding that now as he continues to mature, now just 28 heading into his eighth season. After thinking that he may have had the game taken away from him, he is taking steps to ensure that that doesn’t happen in the future.