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fordfixer
07-26-2010, 01:13 AM
Rookie Pouncey stands in as key contributor
By John Harris, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, July 26, 2010
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 91972.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_691972.html)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. When last seen with the Steelers, first-round draft pick Maurkice Pouncey was wrapping up voluntary practices in early June with an eye toward the opening of training camp.

Pouncey, the No. 18 pick from Florida who can play center and guard, is being counted on to upgrade the team's offensive line play, especially in light of right tackle Willie Colon's season-ending Achilles injury.

As of today, Pouncey remains unsigned four days before players are scheduled to report to Saint Vincent College.

The Steelers have an excellent track record for getting their top draft picks to camp on time. The first three first-round selections under coach Mike Tomlin (Lawrence Timmons, Rashard Mendenhall and Ziggy Hood) participated in the first day of practice with their teammates.

There's still time for Pouncey to come to terms with the Steelers before Friday, but even if Pouncey's signing occurs after the reporting date, he's taken measures to be in playing shape when he reports.

"Maurkice is going to be in good shape. He's not a sloppy kid," said speed and conditioning coach Tom Shaw, who has been directing Pouncey's workouts at ESPN Wide World of Sports since leaving college and before the Steelers drafted him in April.

The Steelers have big expectations for Pouncey, who was taken higher in the first round than any offensive lineman in franchise history since Leon Searcy in 1992 (11th overall).

In fact, the past two offensive linemen selected by the Steelers in the first round (Kendall Simmons in 2002 and Alan Faneca in 1998) started for the majority of their rookie seasons. Simmons started 14 games, and Faneca 12.

At the conclusion of voluntary practices, Tomlin noted that Pouncey has the ability as a rookie to start at right guard or center. Based on those comments, the Steelers don't expect Pouncey to sit on the bench for long.

That's why Pouncey's presence on the first day of camp is so important. But even if he doesn't report on time because of his contract status, Pouncey, by all indications, will be ready to play from a conditioning standpoint.

"Pittsburgh's been known to get deals done. But let's say it didn't happen and he was three weeks into (camp). He'll be here training (in Florida) and won't miss a day," Shaw said. "He's not going to be sitting around the house, wondering when he's going to sign his contract. He's going to be working hard. The day that he (reports), he'll be ready to go."

Pouncey worked out with Shaw two weeks ago, concentrating on position-specific drills with Dallas Cowboys tackle Alex Barron, Carolina Panthers defensive end Eric Moore and former defensive tackle Brentson Buckner, who started for the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX and started for Carolina in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

"Working on slide protection, kick-stepping, getting into the pocket and pass protecting. He was working with Alex Barron and the defensive line," said Shaw, describing Pouncey's workload.

Pouncey was expected to train with Shaw last week, but those plans changed when it was alleged that Pouncey accepted $100,000 from an agent while still in college. The NCAA is investigating those allegations, which Pouncey denied in a statement to the media.

"He's disappointed that this stuff has come up and thrown a wrench in. That's the reason why he missed (workouts)," Shaw said last Wednesday. "He can't wait to get back out here. He's not working out right now.

"He's gotten to a point where he's trying to make sure he still has his (good) name. He wants to be able to go back to the University of Florida and still be respected."

Iron Shiek
07-26-2010, 12:05 PM
Tomlin: "He has the ability to start at Center or Guard."

He dam well better, he's going to get thrown into the fire. Based on his strenght and conditioning coach's comments about not being sloppy, I feel good about the fact that he's not in camp yet, but this deal needs to get done quickly.

At least he isn't 400 lbs like some highly touted OL...

Shawn
07-26-2010, 12:34 PM
If Pouncey is in camp on time he will be ready to start at OG from day 1. He is clearly the most athletic OLman we have and his technique is sound. I'm not convinced he will be ready to start Center from day one. To ask a rookie to call for OL adjustments might be too much even for Pouncey. But, when the dust settles Pouncey and the Steelers will be very happy they found each other. When we bring in his brother Mike next year...we will have a beastly duo who know what the other will do before they do it.

RuthlessBurgher
07-26-2010, 12:46 PM
However, since Kugler's line calls may be significantly different from Zeirlein's line calls, Pouncey may learn the new system just as fast, or possibly even faster, than Justin Hartwig. I still expect the team to start Pouncey at RG, but center as a rook is still not totally out of the realm of possibility at this point.