Steelers' Pouncey could switch from center to guard
The Steelers' offensive line has been so decimated by injuries that the team plans to move its All-Pro center to guard.
Maurkice Pouncey, who leads the AFC in Pro Bowl voting for centers, will shift to left guard for Sunday's game against Baltimore if Willie Colon's balky knee doesn't show improvement.
Colon missed last week's Cleveland game and didn't practice Wednesday. He would only say that he's taking the injury day to day.
Pouncey, a former first-round pick, didn't hesitate when asked to make the move.
“Whatever is best for the team,” he said.
The Steelers believe what's best for the line, which has injuries to Colon, Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert, along with David DeCastro coming off the injured reserve three days ago, is to move Pouncey so Doug Legursky can be put at his natural center spot.
The Steelers believe Legursky is better suited for center than guard. He started at guard for Colon last week and allowed the Browns' only sack.
“I think it is no secret around the league or around this locker room that I am a better center than I am a guard,” Legursky said. “I know personally that I am more natural there.”
The question is if Pouncey can make the adjustment to guard. He hasn't played there since his freshman year at Florida, when he started 11 of 13 games at right guard. Pouncey moved to center for his final two years before getting drafted by the Steelers in 2010.
Pouncey played guard through the summer and into the first week of training camp his rookie year before making the switch to center. He hasn't taken a snap at guard since, even in practice.
“I think he would be very efficient at left guard if he is plugged in,” right guard Ramon Foster said. “What is going to be the toughest adjustment for him is using his hands and how to set guys. At guard, you have more one-on-ones and are by yourself. It will be something he will have to get used to.”
The Steelers practiced in pads Wednesday, in part, to give Pouncey, who will leave the offensive line calls to Legursky, a better feel of what to expect on game day.
“It gave me the opportunity to go out there and get the technique down at guard and ... (see) the physicality of it,” Pouncey said. “I will be ready.”
The Steelers' offensive line could have three different starters from a week ago — Pouncey at guard, Legursky at center and rookie Kelvin Beachum at right tackle.
“We all work really well together just because all of the different positions we've played,” Legursky said. “I really don't think it is going to be a change.”
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.