Maurkice Pouncey learns the hard way that cut blocks are dangerous


Defensive linemen hate cut blocks. The injury suffered by Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey on Sunday may make offensive linemen hate them too.

Pouncey lasted less than four minutes into the season before his knee was blown out by Steelers guard David DeCastro, who acknowledged in an interview with The Fan in Pittsburgh that he’s the one who took Pouncey out at the knee in the middle of the line. DeCastro said he was trying to cut block Titans defensive tackle Sammie Hill but missed his mark and instead nailed his own teammate.

“We were running outside zone,” DeCastro said. “I went down to cut the nose guard and I got a piece of Pouncey as well.”

DeCastro was visibly shaken on the field afterward and obviously feels terrible that he took out a teammate. But the low block that blew out Pouncey’s knee easily could have blown out Hill’s knee if DeCastro had better aim.

The solution, then, is to get rid of all blocks on which one player is aiming for another player’s knee. Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was fined $100,000 for hitting Vikings center John Sullivan low on an interception return, but it was perfectly legal for Sullivan to hit Suh low at the line of scrimmage, just as it was perfectly legal for DeCastro to hit Hill low. Defensive linemen have been saying for years that cut blocks should be banished from the game. Maybe it will take an injury to an offensive lineman to get the NFL’s owners to agree.

55 responses to “Maurkice Pouncey learns the hard way that cut blocks are dangerous

  1. DeCastro is the dirtiest player in the league and he obviously had the “intent to injure” his teammate. Suspend him for 8 games
    -A Lions fan

  2. Maurkice Pouncey learned the hard way that there is karma for wearing a “Free Aaron Hernandez” hat in public when his friend is a murder suspect. That’s not a fact of which to make light by wearing a hat like it’s a joke.

  3. Do knee braces like the one RG3 wears prevent the knee from bending sideways? Why don’t linemen wear these as a preventative measure. I am sure some mobility would be lost but at least you could save your knees for the playoffs.

  4. Wonder if we’ll see the Steeler fan who has been going into every thread about an injury for every team and laughing will make an appearance in this one.

  5. Zone blocking is a joke. Ratbirds have been using it for years to injure defensive players. Was sad to hear that the Steelers adopted the system and karma has shown itself. Fire Haley, get rid of zone blocking, get DeCastro some glasses.

  6. You say this but you don’t acknowledge that one of the things defensive lines do on short yardage plays is attempting to cut the offensive line to create a pileup so the running back has no lane.

    Cut blocking on it’s own is fine, where they need to clean it up is on the delayed cuts, cutting from the side or from behind.

  7. Steeldominance: you confuse the issue, zone blocking has nothing to do with cut blocking. Zone blocking is the simple premise of two o-linemen are responsible for blocking two defensive players, they double team the lineman and read the linebacker with one peeling off to block the linebacker based on which way he steps. IE blocking the player in your zone. You don’t need to cut block to run zone, and you will most certainly see linemen in a power/man blocking system cutting.

  8. Thank you for the clarification on zone blocking above. I am greatly disturbed by the lack of OL knowledge by the posters on this board. Cut blocking at the line is a basic technique that is taught at all levels. If a defense lineman plays too high or insist on playing off and trying to bat down passes at the line – the only way to get his hands down is to legally cut block him at the line. That will force the lineman to keep his hands down and protect his lower body, not as much to prevent injury, and just as much to not be taken out of the play by being on the ground. There are many moves that DL can use to prevent being cut blocked that will make the OL useless as he whiffs on an attempted cut block and is on the ground himself. An of course an illegal cut block at the line is enforced when the DL is engaged and another OL comes from the side to cut block. This is another example of us moving towards flag football if cut blocking is banned at the line of scrimmage.

  9. Cut blocking isn’t really the problem. Football isn’t a game of patty cake. Calling Suh a cheap shot artist, intentionally trying to end careers and demanding he get suspended for an act that is legal and coached at all levels is the problem. Especially when the media is quick to give credibility to TE and Center who practice the cut block regularly.

    On the Pouncy play Gilbert also goes at a Dlinemen’s knees.

    The answer isn’t to get rid of cut blocks, the answer is for the media types to stop over reacting to football players playing physically in a dangerous environment.

  10. Cut blocking penalties need to be enforced better. Cutting a DL when he’s engaged with another OL is the same as throwing a sucker punch. If its done one on one i have no problem with it as long as it isnt done from the side. Knees dont hinge sideways. And as far as the situation on ie goal line stands, where DL’s go low, the OL is not in a physically vulnerable position. apples and oranges.

  11. It was completely unnecessary for DeCastro to take that action. His “block” wouldn’t have helped Redman gain even 1 more yard. All it did was take a very dysfunctional Steeler offensive line and simply make it terrible, by any standard of measure.

    But hey, at least Todd Haley had the time to sign a Terrible Towel saying “Steelers Rule, Chiefs Suck” before they proceeded to go 58 minutes without a touchdown on offense. At home. So there’s that.

  12. Not defending the Suh block, but it’s awfully hard to tell a guy he did something wrong on his block when he gets blocked like that 10-15 times a game.

  13. As long as the dline men can hit the qb while carrying out a fake, they can get cut blocked… Can’t take one away without the other

  14. Cut block should be okay if the defender is directly in front of you, and not moving sideline to sideline, if a DL man is running on a stretch play, the OL should not be able to dive at his knees, but if the ball is hiked and the OL dives at DL man in front of him, at least the DL is not defenseless and can counter it.

  15. I think Suh is a dirty player. His fine was excessive though imo, and it didnt look like that bad of a block. He wasnt coming from behind the guy at least. Maybe i m wrong. But once you get a rep, a rep you’ve earned, it makes you fair game.

  16. Suh blocked a dude who was slowing down and 10 yards behind the ball carrier. He has no business laying a hand on that guy let alone launching at him low. This is what makes Suh dirty.

  17. This season PGH got a new offensive line coach and they decided to implement this zone blocking scheme, that lots of other teams are using. Coaches like Shanahan live and die by this cut blocking since his Denver days. Obviously this zone didnt work out to well for Pgh.
    Since fans and players have been saying for years, how much they hate it, why all of a sudden is it becoming a topic here? Is it because it was friendly fire that took out pouncey? Did it take losing a All Pro offensive player to finally get people to notice? Last year Casey Hampton was upset at cut blocking, so its obvious Pgh players dont like it, however the offensive line has to play the scheme the coaches tell them to do. I dont remember PFT posting any positive stories about PGH complaining of this last year. They did write a story, but it was more along the lines of “suck it up PGH its part of the game” I think given the choice most O’lineman would not cut block, but until the league does something about protecting the defense just as much as they do the offense, teams will continue to cut block. I feel very badly for Pouncey. I would not to want to face any team at half strenght, you want your best against their best. Prayers go out to Pouncey, and for Decastro as well. I know he must feel awful, but he was only doing what his coaches told him to do. Lets get the league to step in and end this nonsense that only offensive players should be protected.

  18. Shouldn’t be allowed to block low at all? Then why let defenders tackle ball carriers low?

    Or maybe you just accept that injuries happen

  19. I can’t believe I am reading your guys posting about banning zone blocking? Have any of you played football before or understand the scheme? Check out some Alex Gibbs cut ups if you don’t know what I am talking about. DeCastro’s move would have been illegal if he actually hit the defender. Defender was engaged with a blocker and cant’ be hit low. Instead DeCastro slammed into his center’s knee. Some of you need to get a clue before posting what NFL should do or shouldn’t do.

  20. As others have said, cut blocking and zone blocking are separate issues. I have no problem with cut blocking one on one when you’re not coming from the side. It has long been illegal for a player to cut block a defender who is already engaged. The league worries a lot about defenders picking on poor little offensive guys. It should worry equally about the knees of defensive players.

    I don’t like Pittsburgh’s new zone-blocking scheme because they had improved significantly under offensive-line coach Sean Kugler and absolutely sucked Sunday in Jack Bicknell’s zone-blocking scheme. And I think their utter confusion contributed to DeCastro hitting Pouncey. Since sucking is bad, I’m not crazy about the zone blocking.

  21. 1) wasn’t the block illegal anyway because Hill was engaged with another OL? I thought you couldn’t cut someone who was already being blocked high.

    2) if hitting the around the knees is illegal an hitting around the head is illegal then where can they hit each other? Next we’ll have a bunch of people with ruptured testicles suing the league.

  22. decastro hasnt done squat since coming here. now he takes out a teammate. thought thats why teams wear different colored uniforms. steelers drafting the last few years leaves a lot to be desired.

  23. dumb comparison. the Dline is facing the Oline when they cut block, they can move and avoid the cut. Suh’s was just a cheapshot he ran him down from behind on a play he wasnt part of. even hines ward waited till the guy turned around to throw a cheapshot in

  24. also it would have been a penalty because the pouncey and the guy were engaged. you cant high lo a guy under the current rules. especially your own teammate lol

  25. DeCastro had to be blocking with his eyes closed! Seriously, look at the tape. What in the he77 was he aiming at?

    On another note…. I think that Crown and JMF are the same dude with some sort of personality disorder.

  26. zibet says:
    Sep 12, 2013 4:28 PM
    also it would have been a penalty because the pouncey and the guy were engaged. you cant high lo a guy under the current rules. especially your own teammate lol
    At the time of the hit, Pouncey was attempting to disengage from the D-lineman to engage the approaching linebacker. DeCastro, in the zone blocking scheme was to then go low on the D-lineman. Pouncey didn’t break away from the lineman in time, and DeCastro didn’t look before diving. The bleacher report dot com has a gif of the play that shows what was happening. In any case, if the block works as planned, then there is no doubling up of the defender, no blown knee. Besides I “think” that doubling a defender is legal if the o-linemen line up next to each other. I could be wrong. Sadly it could’ve been prevented but the stars did not align I guess.

  27. drone501 says:
    Sep 12, 2013 3:28 PM
    decastro hasnt done squat since coming here. now he takes out a teammate. thought thats why teams wear different colored uniforms. steelers drafting the last few years leaves a lot to be desired.
    He hasn’t done squat because he was out with a knee injury of his own for all but 4 weeks last season (his rookie season). How about giving him a full season before we give up on him? Granted knee-capping his center didn’t help.

  28. stillers213 | Sep 12, 2013, 5:10 PM EDT
    DeCastro had to be blocking with his eyes closed! Seriously, look at the tape. What in the he77 was he aiming at?

    On another note…. I think that Crown and JMF are the same dude with some sort of personality disorder.

    You realize you are complimenting JMF and insulting the hell out of crown. Crown has burned more brain cells than JFM will ever have. Crown is a funny smart guy JFM is just a commodian circling the bowl like the unflushabe turd he is.

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