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Steelers lose key piece to injury on Sunday

The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field. The game’s result will certainly be forgotten by the beginning of the regular season on Sept. 10, but the impact most certainly will not. For the Packers, they watched star receiver and top weapon Jordy Nelson sustain a season-ending torn ACL while the Steelers lost center Maurkice Pouncey to a broken ankle.

While Pouncey’s timetable has not been determined, it is likely the Pouncey will be out for months if not the entire season. If Pouncey can return at some point in 2015, Pittsburgh might decide the best course of action is to put their Pro Bowl center on the Injured Reserve Designated to Return list, allowing him to return after 10 weeks.

For the time being, Pittsburgh is now without one of the best centers in the game and its anchor on the offensive line. It’s a major blow for a team trying to defend its AFC North crown, and a game-changer for the big uglies, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.

“He does bring a different vibe when he’s in there,” guard Ramon Foster said. “I think everybody can agree with that. But we’ll see what happens.”

The Steelers are a team that is going to be relying on its offense to carry the day. Pittsburgh is without much talent on the defense, with only Cameron Heyward and Lawrence Timmons being true standouts. After losing Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu, Brett Keisel, Brice McCain and Jason Worilds, along with defensive coordinator and Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau, the Steelers are going to struggle on that side of the ball.

Behind the trio of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh has to score into the high 20s and low 30s to win consistently. Losing Pouncey is going to be a major blow in both phases of the attack. With Pouncey on the mend, Cody Wallace will likely step in. Wallace is a seven-year veteran who has been with Pittsburgh since 2013, and now finds himself in a tough spot. Yet, he hopes to rise to the challenge on a team that doesn’t accept excuses.

“That’s what I’m here for. That’s my job,” Wallace said. “They brought me in here to be the backup interior guy, and I embrace that role. If it comes to having to step up for a period of time, I’d be happy to do that. I just try to be as physical as I can.”

Wallace is not going to be Pouncey, who has been to the Pro Bowl four times and is a four-time All-Pro. The previous fact is acceptable for Pittsburgh, but Wallace needs to be adequate. The AFC North is filled with tough interior defensive linemen, including Geno Atkins, Danny Shelton, Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan. The Steelers also play the St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs, two of the most dominant defensive lines in the league.

Pouncey’s injury can be overcome by Pittsburgh if Wallace is solid. If he’s a sieve, the Steelers are in a world of hurt.

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