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Super Blow: Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey Won’t Play in Super Bowl XLV

Last week, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey was seen wearing a hard cast on his injured left ankle and walking on crutches.  On Friday, he was in a protective walking boot and the Steelers were holding a 50-50 chance on Pouncey’s ability to play.

Now, unfortunately, Pouncey won’t be showing up on the field at all in Super Bowl XLV this Sunday. 

According to an report via Adam Schefter, Pouncey has been ruled out of Super Bowl XLV against Green Bay with a broken bone in his left ankle along with a high-ankle sprain he suffered in the AFC Championship game.

Pouncey was injured in the first quarter of the AFC title game and had to be helped off the field when New York Jets linebacker Bryan Thomas was pushed  into the Steelers’ rookie center and Thomas rolled over the back of Pouncey’s left leg.  Pouncey wasn’t able to put any weight on his injured ankle and needed the help of a couple Pittsburgh trainers to hobble to the sidelines.  Pouncey did not return to the game.

Second-year undrafted free agent Doug Legursky replaced Pouncey in the AFC Championship and will start in Pouncey’s absence in Super Bowl XLV.  NowLegursky must clash with 337-pound Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji, who has elevated his game and is rapidly becoming Green Bay and the NFL’s top defensive forces on the interior line.  

Aside from spending his evening dealing with Raji, Legursky now will be responsible for making the right calls, adjustments at the line and audibles.  He must decipher where the Packers blitzes will be coming from.  That won’t be an easy task for a second-year free agent, considering Green Bay’s defensive coordinator Dom Capers has become a task master with schemes and disguising blitzes, while utilizing the cornerbacks on blitzes frequently.

The loss of Pouncey is obviously a big loss a week before the Super Bowl.  Despite this being Pouncey’s first season in the NFL, he’s Pittsburgh’s best offensive lineman.  It’ll make it very difficult for the Steelers and running back Rashard Mendenhall to find running room on the interior, which could lead the Steelers to alter their rushing attack more towards the outside.  The Steelers are also likely to skew their attack in the red zone, relying more heavily on backs Isaac Redman and Mewelde Moore, or tight end Heath Miller.  Protection wise, Legursky will likely be given help with Raji and possibly Cullen Jenkins meaning that Mendenhall and Redman could be asked to block and chip more so than they’ve done in previous games to ensure Ben Roethlisberger remains upright.

Pittsburgh has dealt with injuires and issues from the onset of the season, so I guess it should come as no surprise they’ll continue to deal with adversity heading into Super Bowl XLV.  Now on Sunday, the Steelers will be without both starting tackles and their starting center against Green Bay.

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