The single biggest piece of injury news headlining the days leading up to the Super Bowl have belonged to Pro Bowl rookie center Maurkice Pouncey. There has been speculation throughout the week, and conflicting reports on Pouncey’s likelihood of playing on Sunday. Well, the prognostications can stop, as official word has arrived, and Mike Tomlin has officially declared Pouncey out.
There was hope that Pouncey would be able to recover from a high ankle sprain, with Pouncey himself saying that there was a 75% chance he would be able to play. However, Tomlin has confirmed that Pouncey was unable to practice on Friday, and will therefore not be on the field on Sunday, which could be a major issue for the Steelers. Pouncey’s job will now go to Doug Legursky, in what will be his first NFL start. This is a very difficult spot for Legursky to be thrown into, as not only will he have to line up against B.J. Raji, he will also be responsible for the protection calls for his team. This could certainly lead to some uncertainty and matchup issues for the Steelers, as they will need Legursky to immediately step up to this immense responsibility despite his lack of experience. It also remains to be seen how comfortable Ben Roethlisberger will be with Legursky hiking him the ball.
The other player confirmed to be out for Sunday for Pittsburgh is defensive end Aaron Smith, who has not played a game since suffering a triceps injury in October. With a secondary that is already lacking in depth, the confirmation that Smith will not be able to play is unfortunate but expected news for the Steelers.
Other players to show up on the injury report include Troy Polamalu (Probable) with his lingering achilles injury, Will Allen (Questionable) with a knee injury, Jonathan Scott (Probable) with a rib issue, and Bryant McFadden (Probable) with an injured abdomen. All of these players, however, are expected to suit up on Sunday, so Pouncey and Smith are the only two major players who won’t be available for Mike Tomlin’s squad. The full impact of missing Pouncey remains to be seen, but you can bet the Packers will be looking to capitalize on Doug Legursky’s baptism by fire.