Every day when Maurkice Pouncey walks down the hallway at the Steelers practice facility that features a wall adorned with photos of the six great centers in Steelers’ history, he dreams about his photo one day gracing the same wall as the likes of Ray Mansfield, Mike Webster and Dermontti Dawson.
“I can’t be named with those guys yet,” said Pouncey. “But I walk by them all of the time and seeing their pictures inspires me to hopefully get up there one day. Hopefully I can keep building that legacy and keep things going around here and represent the Steelers the right way.”
Pouncey is definitely off to a good start in that quest. He was recently named to this third straight Pro Bowl, becoming the first center in NFL history to be voted to the Pro Bowl his first three seasons in the league.
“I didn’t really think about that,” said Pouncey. “I didn’t know that. It’s awesome.
“When I sit down and think about it, it’s really crazy. It’s a great accomplishment in my life. It’s a great honor, but I would give it all back to be in the playoffs and compete for the Super Bowl.”
Pouncey is one of two Steelers who were selected to the 2013 AFC Pro Bowl squad, the other being tight end Heath Miller. In a cruel twist of fate, this is Miller’s first time being selected and he won’t be able to play after suffering an ACL injury against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 23, ending his season. Like Pouncey, though, Miller would rather the team be in the post-season than receiving individual honors.
“It’s not why I play,” said Miller. “It’s definitely an honor to be named to the Pro Bowl team. It’s not why I play the game, and I am sure all of our guys would say the same thing. But you take it as a compliment. I wish it were under different circumstances, but it’s an honor and something to be proud of.
“It’s a nice accolade but obviously it was a disappointing season and we aren’t where we want to be. The overriding factor is the disappointing season and not doing what we set out to do. It’s disappointing, because we didn’t perform as well as we would have liked. It’s obvious. I personally have a lot of work to do in this offseason, but as a team I think we have a lot of work to do. This is unfamiliar territory for us. We need to get better.”
Pouncey is considered one of the best, if not the best, centers in the game right now, but he too isn’t satisfied with where his game is yet and credits the rest of the offensive line with his success than his own talents.
“I tell my guys they make me look a lot better,” said Pouncey. “They make it so easy. I just get out in space and work my own things, but those guys make me look better than what I really am.”
Pouncey definitely doesn’t give himself enough credit, but others certainly do, including offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
“He’s a football player,” said Haley. “I mean that in a way – when he came out of college, if you just relied on his timing, speed and his combine numbers, he’d be just another guy. But when the pads are on, he’s special. His football playing ability at his position doesn’t add up to the measurables, so to speak. It comes down to, when you are evaluating these guys, they better be good football players. He is just that. I didn’t know that about him. That’s even more impressive.
“We see it every day. You just don’t want to take it for granted, because he is special. He is a really smart player. He helps a bunch of other guys. He is very athletic. When his pads are on, he allows you to do things you wouldn’t be able to with other players at his position.”
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The Steelers have four players who were selected as Pro Bowl second alternates, including Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Clark, Lawrence Timmons and Shaun Suisham. They would play in the game if two players selected ahead of them are not able to participate.