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Maurkice Pouncey says he's never been hit like he was on ACL tear

Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey made it back from a major knee injury sufferd on a wayward block attempt from RG David DeCastro. While he wants to put the injury talk aside, he told BTSC's Dale Grdnic it was more mental than anything.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

PITTSBURGH -- It didn't take Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey long to get back in the flow of the offense during the opening OTA Tuesday.

Just one snap did the trick for the three-time Pro Bowler, more than eight months removed from tearing both the ACL and MCL in his right knee during the Steelers season-opener Sept. 8, 2013.

"Yeah, it was my first time doing live action,'' Pouncey said. "(And) I didn't have any restrictions. (So), it was pretty neat to dry-block some guys and finish on some plays, it was pretty awesome. So, it was great. There were no problems at all.''

Pouncey was expected to anchor a young offensive line last season. But an injury just eight snaps into the Steelers opening drive, after teammate David DeCastro dove onto the back of his legs, derailed the club's offensive game plan just minutes after it began.

"I've never been hit like that,'' Pouncey said, quickly adding that he hoped to leave all the injury talk in the past. "(But) I think it was more mental than anything, getting my confidence back. There's only so much you can do to be ready, but then you have to go out and do it.''

So, Pouncey was elated to be back on the practice field, and Roethlisberger was thrilled to have him there.

"It was great,'' Roethlisberger said. "As a friend and a guy who has worked so hard to get back out here, it was fun to see him back in the pads.''

Second-year running back Le'Veon Bell missed the opening three games last season due to a foot injury during training camp, so the opening OTA practice was his first time running behind a Pouncey block.

"Maurkice is one of the more athletic centers in this league,'' Bell said. "He can run a little better, so we're going to try to get back to where we started last year, with more of an outside, zone running game. It's something he can do, and he's also a leader for the front guys. So, we're looking forward to having him back.''

Bell and bruising back LeGarrette Blount, acquired as a free agent during the offseason, are counting on Pouncey and an offensive line now under the tutelage of former Tennessee Titans head coach and NFL Hall-of-Fame guard Mike Munchak. He is the club's third offensive line coach in three years.

"We've been building since last year,'' Pouncey said. "We finished the season pretty well, and a lot of the guys played great. Now, to get a new coach, a Hall-of-Fame player like that, it's awesome. It's going to be great for the group.''

Roethlisberger believed that Pouncey's return and the continued improvement of the offensive line could make the Steelers among the most potent offenses in the league.

"That's a big part of running the no-huddle, because you get those guys working together,'' Roethlisberger said. "They're comfortable. They're familiar, and they've got another offseason of training and continuity and learning from each other. And, so, they're what's going to drive this team and this offense.''

Notes: Inside linebacker Sean Spence, who missed the past two seasons after an injured left knee during the preseason in 2012, said he was happy to be back on the field and thrilled to complete a practice. Spence tried to return at midseason last year, but broke an arm. ... Cornerback Ike Taylor and safety Troy Polamalu did not attend the voluntary workout while training elsewhere. ... Rookie linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, a sixth-round pick from UCLA, also did not attend because his class has not yet graduated this year.