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Steelers

Steelers notebook: Pouncey back at '100 percent'

Kevin Gorman
| Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 10:36 a.m.
Steelers centers Maurkice Pouncey (right) and Quinton Schooley take part in drills during the first day of organized team activites Tuesday, May 24, 2016, on the South Side.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Steelers centers Maurkice Pouncey (right) and Quinton Schooley take part in drills during the first day of organized team activites Tuesday, May 24, 2016, on the South Side.
Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey runs through drills during the first day of organized team activites Tuesday, May 24, 2016, on South Side.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey runs through drills during the first day of organized team activites Tuesday, May 24, 2016, on South Side.
Former Steelers guard Alan Faneca watches drills during the first day of organized team activites Tuesday, May 24, 2016, on the South Side.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Former Steelers guard Alan Faneca watches drills during the first day of organized team activites Tuesday, May 24, 2016, on the South Side.
Former Steelers guard Alan Faneca watches drills during the first day of organized team activites Tuesday, May 24, 2016, on the South Side.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Former Steelers guard Alan Faneca watches drills during the first day of organized team activites Tuesday, May 24, 2016, on the South Side.

After enduring “multiple” surgeries to repair a broken right fibula, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey said Tuesday there was “no chance” he could have played last season.

Pouncey pronounced himself “100 percent” following the first day of organized team activities at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

“I'm ready to go out and play,” Pouncey said. “Whenever you miss a lot and you love football, it feels great to be back out here.”

The Steelers placed Pouncey on the injured reserve/designated for return list in September, which would have allowed him to return for the Week 9 game against Oakland.

Pouncey, however, said that never was a possibility. “I don't know what that was for,” he said, “but no chance at all.”

Pouncey said he watched the Steelers' AFC playoff games “on my couch, with my foot in the air.” One thing that helped were weekly Thursday visits from his offensive linemates.

“When you love football and things like that happen, you've just got to look at the bright side of things. I'm just blessed to be out here,” Pouncey said. “They did a great job last year. I was rooting them guys on.

“They came over every Thursday, watched film and did all of their treatments and kept me going. They kept me on the bright side of everything.”

Glad Pouncey returned

Even though Cody Wallace filled in admirably at center, left guard Ramon Foster said he's glad to have Pouncey back.

“Not a knock at all on Cody — he did an amazing job — but it's a different animal having Maurkice in there,” Foster said. “Just his strength, his speed, his awareness, his tenacity — it's back. I like it, and I'm going to be honest.

“Coming off that injury thing, him being him, there's a little nervousness in it, just testing everything out. He won't say that, but that's what it is. I asked, ‘How is it?' He's like, ‘I won't say anything.' That's just him getting back used to it, getting his footing.”

Only 26, Pouncey has lost nearly two full seasons to injury, so he brought intensity to his practice Tuesday.

“I'm doing everything,” Pouncey said. “I don't need time off. I'm (angry) that I missed a lot. I'm ready to go.”

Pouncey's performance drew his teammates' attention — and praise.

“It's huge, but he's a guy that wants only to be out there,” Foster said. “Last year, in general, him being away from it made him understand that ball will leave you, and he's taken every opportunity to get it back. He was very excited. He was punching like none other today.”

Faneca back as coach

Former Steelers guard Alan Faneca, a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist, is working with the offensive line as a volunteer coach during the next four weeks.

Foster is thrilled to work with Faneca, whom he called “the legend,” and said the linemen took to teasing right guard David DeCastro, who wears Faneca's No. 66 jersey, that Faneca was there only to coach him.

“It's awesome to have older alumni back,” Foster said. “Alan is one of those guys that's a legend. Everybody knew about him when he wasn't here. To see him around is definitely impressive because he laid down a great body of work.”

Still dancing

Receiver Antonio Brown was not at practice because he had a commitment with ABC's “Dancing With the Stars.” He did not advance to the final three dancers but still had to perform during the finals. He is expected to be back Wednesday.

Joint practice

For the second time in three years, the Steelers will hold a practice with another team during training camp at St. Vincent.

The Steelers will host the Detroit Lions on Aug. 9-10 leading to their first preseason game Aug. 12 at Heinz Field.

The Steelers took part in a pair of joint practices in 2014 with the Buffalo Bills. The Steelers were supposed to go to Buffalo last year for a joint practice, but because the Steelers were playing a fifth preseason game, it was nixed.

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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