The Pittsburgh Steelers will have a new center in 2021 due to veteran Maurkice Pouncey retiring earlier in the offseason. His retirement resulted in the Steelers selecting Kendrick Green in the third round of this year’s draft and now the Illinois product is expected to be the starter right out of the chute as a rookie. On Tuesday, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was first asked about him no longer having Pouncey as his center during his media session following the team’s fourth OTA practice of 2021.
“You trying to make me cry?” Roethlisberger said. “Is that what we are doing here, talking about Pounce?”
Roethlisberger’s crying reference was obviously a jab at himself for shedding some tears while sitting alone with Pouncey on the bench of the Steelers sideline following the Steelers Wild Card game loss to the Cleveland Browns in January. That game was obviously Pouncey’s final NFL game that night at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and Roethlisberger probably knew that was the case at that time.
Roethlisberger went on to talk more on Tuesday on what it’s been like so far this offseason to no longer have Pouncey snapping him the football.
“I joked that it’s not quite set in yet that he’s not here,” Roethlisberger said. “It almost just feels like he’s just not here at practice right now. It will set in. It is definitely weird to see a 53 in front of me. It’s going to be a tough thing to be out there and not have him. Not just because of his football presence, but because of his friendship and what he meant to all of us, me especially. It’s going to be different, but I think the other guys are excited for the challenge.”
After paying some respect to Pouncey, Roethlisberger later talked about the challenges the younger centers on the roster, Green, B.J. Finney and J.C. Hassenauer, all face.
“Those are huge shoes,” Roethlisberger said. “And that’s what I would tell those guys. Don’t try and fill those shoes because those are unfillable. Be your own best version of you.”
In so many words, Roethlisberger admitted on Tuesday that him being able to work with the young centers on the roster is one of the main reasons why he’s present art OTAs this year.
“I’m in town, so I might as well be here spending time,” Roethlisberger said on Tuesday. “We’ve got new centers—J.C. [Hassenauer] was here last year, [B.J.] Finney has been here in the past. KG [Kendrick Green] is new. Just to get some relationship with them.”
Roethlisberger, who didn’t spend a lot of time under Pouncey the last few seasons, did hint some on Tuesday that we could see him under center more in 2021, which would certainly be a welcome sight if that comes to fruition.
“Well, we have gone under center, we have shotgun, he has more motion, Roethlisberger said of the new offensive being installed in Pittsburgh my new offensive coordinator Matt Canada. “But I feel like that is where the NFL is going right now, a lot of the jet sweep motions and stuff. I can go under center, I never said I didn’t like it. We will be in the gun, we will move. Like is said earlier, we will throw a lot of different looks and schemes and things at people and see what works.”