Maurkice pounces on Pittsburgh's starting center job

It’s been coming for a while, and it looks like it’s about to happen.

Rookie Maurkice Pouncey, expected to be a guard at least for a year, apparently has supplanted Justin Hartwig as the Steelers’ starting center.

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pouncey took all of the first-team reps during practice on Wednesday, for the first time.

“It put a big smile on me,” Pouncey said following practice.  “I ain’t going to lie, but I just
need to go out there and practice every day.  I want to stay humble.  I’m
happy about it.  I just want to stay humble and keep working at it.”

Bouchette explains that the Steelers coaching staff was “blown away” by Pouncey’s first two practices on the first day of training camp.  At that point, they reconsidered the plan to allow the first-round pick to compete at right guard.

Meanwhile, the guy who’ll be headed to the bench — and possibly out of town — didn’t want to talk about the latest development.  Per Bouchette, Hartwig wouldn’t take questions about Pouncey’s ascension to the starting lineup in Hartwig’s spot.

Here’s what Hartwig said eight days ago, once Pouncey started to get reps with the first-team offense:  “I’ve been playing football for a long time and I’ve worked my butt off
and I do my job every day, and that’s not going to change based on somebody pushing me for my starting spot.  I’m going to continue to do what I’ve been doing and everything will play itself out.”

The next question becomes whether the Steelers will pay Hartwig $2.08 million to sit on the bench, or whether they’ll try to trade him.

29 responses to “Maurkice pounces on Pittsburgh's starting center job

  1. Hartwig has been the BIGGEST weakness on the o-line. He gets blown off the ball nearly every play.
    If you can’t run block in the middle of your line, you aren’t going to run the ball very effectively.
    We have always had great starting centers. Hopefully pouncey is the real deal and can fill that spot for a decade.

  2. I think at this point a $2.08 million dollar “proven” backup is a safe gamble. Hartwig’s presence in such a role won’t make the O-line any worse, and I’m betting its a mess trying to find another proven backup this late.

  3. Well can’t complain about Pouncey looking great in pre-season and winning the job, but Essex looks awful at RG. The Steelers really need to find an answer for that guard spot because it certainly isn’t Essex.

  4. Dude, I will proofread your articles for a fair price.
    For every article, you give me a shiny new nickel for every mistake I find.
    Football season hasn’t even started yet, but I’m pretty sure I can clear 5 or 6 figures this year.
    Let’s do this. I’ll wait for your (grammatically incorrect) email.

  5. Can Hartwig still play Steeler fans? Wouldn’t mind a backup plan in case Jackson isn’t the same after the knee surgery.

  6. Something needs to change with their Oline, not a Steelers fan but have Rashard Mendenhall on my fantasy squad and that last preseason game steelers oline looked awful. Mendenhall got dropped for a loss 3-4 times that game and he only played in the first half.

  7. Might as well hold onto him for this year especially with them already losing Colon for the year.

  8. If you’ve seen him play in either preseason game you notice a common thread…the guy accross from him is going backward at the snap.
    The only question will be if he can make all of the calls necessary to play the position.

  9. Starks is fine at LT. Pouncey should be great at C.
    Kemo hasn’t looked great in pre-season, but he should be fine.
    The right side of the line is a disaster though – Essex and Adams both stink.

  10. Did he kiss his brother on lips when he found out, similar to draft day!!!!!Next Steeler to get arrested it, mark it!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Adams doesn’t play until the season starts. hes been knowen to do this for some reason. I Blame the limited and sometimes dumb play calling for their weak start. I think with the guys we do(Scott, etc) have, we will find the right group. Let them “gel” and see what we have or dont have and go from there.

  12. Yessss!!!!! This was my dream scenario when we took Pouncey. Nothing personal against Hartwig, but the Steelers have been known for their dominating offensive lines, anchored by world-class centers going back to Ranger Ray. Nothing’s been the same on that line since Jeff Hartings retired. I’m not saying that’s Hartwig’s fault–as others have pointed out, we’ve got a lot of weaknesses on the line. But finally being able to build from that center position may get us back on track.
    As for Hartwig, can he contribute at guard and do a better job than Essex? Let him compete for that job. Otherwise $2.08 mil is a ridiculous price to pay for a backup center. We’d be wiser to try and trade him for someone who could replace Essex.
    That line worries me considerably more than the loss of Roethlisberger for four games. Time is running out to fortify the week spots.

  13. He is why their o-line hasn’t been as good. It’s amazing how important having a good center is.
    Check out what happened to the Eagles after Jammal Jackson went down last year.

  14. Adams doesn’t play until the season starts. hes been knowen to do this for some reason. I Blame the limited and sometimes dumb play calling for their weak start. I think with the guys we do(Scott, etc) have, we will find the right group. Let them “gel” and see what we have or dont have and go from there.
    I can cut Adams some slack I guess, but Essex has proven in the past that he’s really not a great guard – he’s a decent backup tackle but doesn’t seem to have the quickness you need for the guard position. I’d really rather have someone else at RG – pretty much anyone else.

  15. Hartwig will stick around if for no other reason than he’s good buddies with Ben. They will try him at guard I think … he can’t be any worse than Essex …

  16. This is great news.Center has definitely been a weakness on this team for a long time.Lets hope Maurice can be the next Dermonti Dawson.As far as the comments on Pounceys relationship with his brother…Give it a break haters.Now your going to bash a guy because he has a close relationship with his twin brother.I understand that the people posting these comments are Steeler haters,but to say something about a man as his brother like that just makes you guys sound petty and bitter.

  17. Can Hartwig play Left Guard? If so, Cincy should swing a trade for him. He’s been a pretty good player over the years. Sucks that Pouncey had to take a pay cut from his days at Florida to go to the NFL though…

  18. At least the Steelers didn’t update their website and notify Hartwig via txt message from a position coach

  19. Awesome, now Maurkice can settle back into his role of getting blown up by Terrence Cody just like he did when he was at Florida.

  20. Now I see why it took the Steelers all of 8 seconds to get their card up to the podium during the draft this past April.
    Fat Boy Cody??? Please. I saw Pouncey get the best of him when they played head to head. Cody will be out of the league within 4 years. Pouncey will be a perennial pro-bowler.

  21. @Katmanduu …
    Florida’s offensive line wasn’t blowing up anybody during this year’s SEC Championship. In fact, by the end of the game, they were walking up to the line of scrimmage holding hands–something I’ve never seen before. Maybe it was a kind of comrades-in-arms thing … in case they didn’t survive the next down. Mt. Cody definitely got the last laugh. ROLL TIDE!!
    But kronusthebonus …
    Pouncey is a Steeler now and it’s a whole new ballgame 😉

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