Maurkice Pouncey Expected to Return in Week 12
Malleable Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey has been given a preliminary recovery timetable of approximately 15 weeks following successful surgery on an ankle injury sustained last week.
The rehabilitation process has him on track to return in Week 12, just in time for a brutal six-game schedule that could make or break the Steelers’ playoff hopes in 2015.
Following a Week 11 bye, Pittsburgh will toil through four away games in six weeks, including a trip to the Pacific Northwest to face Seattle, followed by a slew of black-and-blue divisional battles with Cincinnati, Baltimore and Cleveland in weeks 14, 16 and 17 respectively.
At a time of year when everyone is hurting, the Steelers will be praying their Pro Bowl center will be back to his athletic best against some top-tier opposition. In his absence, veteran journeyman Cody Wallace will be feeding Big Ben the ball.
Entering his eighth year in the league, the 6’4”, 300 pound Wallace will start for his sixth team, though he has been with the Steelers since 2013. But despite his unimpressive resume, Pittsburgh’s offensive coaches maintain that the game plan and blocking scheme will remain unchanged.
“Not much will change,” declared offensive line coach Mike Munchak. “There were things that we would put in because [Pouncey] could do something more, but it won’t limit us in any way.”
Pittsburgh’s running and passing game flourished last season, behind a revamped offensive line. Munchak turned one of the most neglected and ridiculed O-lines in the league into a pulling, trapping, pass-blocking machine, but much of that was due to Pouncey’s incredible lead blocking.
If the Steelers can at least maintain their 2014 improvement without their best lineman, they would go a long way towards managing the NFL’s toughest schedule and finally making some noise in the playoffs once more.