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Steelers won't cut-block on outside zone runs in 2014

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Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey lost his 2013 season on an errant cut-block from David DeCastro. This year, Pouncey says the Steelers are eliminating cut-blocking from outside zone runs.

Justin K. Aller

Perhaps it's the influence created by seeing the team's star center go down on an errant cut-block eight plays into the season.

Or maybe offensive line coach Mike Munchak doesn't feel the need to use cut blocking as part of the team's outside zone running scheme.

Whatever it is, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, fresh off a torn ACL last season, told Tribune Review reporter Alan Robinson they won't be cut blocking this season.

"That was the last time we ran that play," Pouncey said Tuesday. "We're working on it now (the outside zone blocking), but we'll take away the cut blocking.

"We're not doing that anymore."

While cut blocking isn't a requirement of outside zone running, they are usually linked together closely. There's a long standing battle over whether it's ethical to block in such a manner - which is legal, according to the NFL. But should they?

Apparently the Steelers are saying no, at least in some aspects. Defining "cut blocking" isn't a narrow activity. There are lots of different ways to do it. When a player is engaged with another blocker, he can be cut in some areas legally. Individual blockers can also cut their opponents, and while still not often enjoyed by defenders, it is seen as a little more in the outline of fair play.

It stands to reason Pouncey is speaking in regards to cutting a defender while he's engaged with another blocker.

Either way, it may not have been a good time for Pouncey to make such a comment. Not that teams won't notice fairly quickly into the first quarter of Week 1, it's still seems like a strategic "need to know" kind of thing.

Or, maybe Pouncey has earned it.