Maurkice Pouncey has sat at home and watched the Pittsburgh Steelers on tv before. But that was when he had a broken leg or a torn up knee. Never before did he have to do it when he was healthy. That was the case, however, for the past two weeks during his suspension.
He was officially reinstated to the 53-man roster yesterday and spoke to reporters for the first time since his suspension began. He said that he watched the games at home with his kids. They wanted to go to Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field, but, of course, he wasn’t allowed to go.
But he was excited to watch his team win, going from 5-5 to 7-5 in his absence and reclaiming their positioning for a wildcard spot. He praised the play of his teammates in his absence, and joked that they don’t need him.
Asked how he was feeling coming off of the past two weeks idle, he said, “I feel like this is the beginning of the year. I’ve got a lot of energy. So we’re gonna see how things turn out today at practice. I know the guys are excited. We’ve just got to stay humble and focused”.
The Steelers have three games on the road over the final four weeks, the only home game a week from Sunday against the 9-3 Buffalo Bills. They travel to play the Arizona Cardinals this next week, then the New York Jets two weeks after that, and then have to finish the regular season meeting the Baltimore Ravens on their own ground.
Not that Pouncey is worried about any of that, because he believes in what this group in 2019 is capable of. “I’ve been telling you guys all along, man, we’ve got great leadership, we’ve got great players”, he said. “This team’s really humbled and focused. It’s exciting when you’ve got that type of team, the type of leaders that we have upstairs”.
He is, of course, one of the leaders. He is literally a team captain. And his return is meaningful in that regard, because other than Cameron Heyward, the other two captains—quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and fullback Roosevelt Nix, the latter for special teams—are on the Reserve/Injured List.
While Pouncey remains one of the best centers in the game, and should coast to his eighth Pro Bowl this year, his absence from the locker room may be just as significant as his absence from the field. To have him back in both capacities will be a boost in many ways.