Steelers coach Mike Tomlin made Maurkice Pouncey stay around the team last season

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

A thinner-looking Pouncey has been at the team's facility nearly every day working out this offseason as he rehabilitates from a torn ACL and MCL.

Most athletes find it painful to be around a team when recovering from injury. There are pros and cons to that player sticking around; the extra set of experienced eyes in film study helps everyone, but the constant reminder to that player he can't actively participate on game day can have a detrimental effect in his recovery.

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey was lost for the year barely after it began when a wayward David DeCastro block landed on his right knee. Pouncey told Steelers.com reporter Teresa Varley recently Steelers coach Mike Tomlin wouldn't let him disengage from the team.

"I am glad Coach (Mike) Tomlin made me come back, be around the team, made me go to meetings last season," Pouncey told Varley. "I just kind of enjoyed being around the guys and that helped me."

Pouncey, a captain in 2013, is expected to return to the starting lineup, and be the key ingredient to what looks like a strong all-around offensive line. The addition of coach Mike Munchak and the success he's had with several high-level offensive line units makes fans optimistic about their chances to dominate the line of scrimmage and continue the torrid scoring pace at which they finished last season.

Judging by the photos on the team's web site, Pouncey looks thinner and more athletic than he did last year. It was said Pouncey bulked up a bit before the season in an effort to boost his leverage against the large and powerful nose tackles of the AFC North. Pouncey did not look like the same player in the preseason, particularly in terms of the quickness that makes him a special player.

While it was only the preseason, Pouncey was particularly manhandled in a game against the Washington Redskins, leading some to wonder whether the increase in weight was the right move.

It can't be confirmed merely from the photos, but he looks trimmer now, back to the hyper-athletic center he has been through his career. Provided he's back to his original form on the field, it could be an outstanding year for Pouncey, leading the charge in the Steelers' zone-running scheme that's expected to be utilized often this season.

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