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After year off, Steelers' Pouncey 'ready to go'

Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey speaks to the media after reporting to training camp Friday, July 25, 2014, in Latrobe.

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Friday, July 25, 2014, 9:45 p.m.
 

Maurkice Pouncey said he woke up Friday — the day the Steelers reported to training camp — with a case of the jitters.

The Steelers All-Pro center was referring to returning to the football field 11 months after a season-ending knee injury, not a lawsuit that was filed Friday against him, twin brother Mike Pouncey and a Miami Beach nightclub.

Ricquan James, Niya Pickett and Brentley Williams claim in the lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court that the offensive linemen — Mike is a center with the Miami Dolphins — attacked them in the nightclub July 12. The plaintiffs are seeking more than $15,000 in damages.

The Pounceys' attorney, Jeffrey Ostrow, has said the brothers were not involved in any altercation. No charges have been filed. Ostrow could not be reached for comment.

According to the lawsuit, the Pounceys harassed James with homophobic remarks and then physically attacked him during a birthday party for the twins.

The lawsuit says Pickett attempted to intervene when Maurkice Pouncey grabbed her, spun her toward him, punched her in the face and knocked her unconscious.

Maurkice Pouncey did not address the lawsuit when he reported to camp. The Steelers had no comment.

It was the second consecutive year the Pounceys' birthday party resulted in controversy. Last year, the Pounceys were photographed wearing “Free Hernandez” hats in support of former Florida teammate Aaron Hernandez, who was arrested and charged with murder.

Maurkice Pouncey signed a $48 million deal last month. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on Friday declared Pouncey was ready to return to action.

The offensive line struggled last year without Pouncey, who was hurt eight plays into last season. It had its worst rushing season since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

“You miss him, you really do,” left tackle Kelvin Beachum said. “You miss him being in meeting rooms, miss him being out on the field. You miss other things about him as well. Now we got our center back. We got his intensity and his energy back and ready to go.

“He is like a dog on a bone. He gets after you. He is willing to do things that other people aren't willing to do.”

Pouncey participated in all offseason workouts.

“That got me a lot stronger going out there going against guys and feeling the different angles you have to block,” Pouncey said. “I am excited to be back out here. After so much success in the beginning, and then it's all taken away from you, this is like starting all over again and getting drafted again.”

The Steelers return all five of their starting offensive linemen. Coupled with the hiring of offensive line coach Mike Munchak, expectations are high.

“We have to go out there and show everybody instead of talking about it,” Pouncey said. “I am ready to go.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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