In what I’m sure qualifies as shocking news, the Pittsburgh Steelers can’t have to have Maurkice Pouncey back on the field. He’ll make his return this Sunday after serving a two-game suspension for his actions in the Steelers/Browns fight two weeks ago. Count Mike Tomlin as one of those guys eager to get #53 back in uniform.
“You know, he’s our captain,” Tomlin told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “He’s a quality player. He’s a leader on and off the field. And so it’s significant.”
Without him the last two games, the Steelers’ opted against having an offensive player on the field for the coin toss, a nod to his absence and what he means to the group. It’s why pre-game, several players wore “Free Pouncey” shirts and why post-game, Cam Heyward was on his way to deliver a game ball to him.
Credit to BJ Finney, who played well filling in, but no one captures the heart and soul of the offense like Pouncey, especially with the team losing Ben Roethlisberger six quarters into the season.
In a sense, it’s remarkable Pouncey is even still playing, much less at the quality “his return is significant” level he’s at. The seven knee surgeries he suffered through in 2015 would’ve ended most careers. A center whose best asset was mobility going under the knife that many times? Coming back at all seemed like a mountain to climb. Coming back, playing at the same level, all while remaining durable is something that should be studied by doctors for the next 50 years.
He’ll return this weekend to a rejuvenated Steelers’ rushing attack. One that’s gone for 160 and 124 yards the last two weeks, facing a semi-leaky Cardinals’ run defense. Todd Gurley and the Rams ran for over 130 yards on them last week.
In ten games this season, we’ve charged Pouncey for just 0.5 sacks allowed. Over the last four seasons, dating back to 2016, we’ve charged him for only four of them.