When you watch Maurkice Pouncey play, it isn't normal to see a center be able to do the things he does with regularity. One of the main reasons the Pittsburgh Steelers offense is so dynamic is due to his athleticism and overall skill set he brings to the team on an every down basis.
Just watch this video of when Pouncey made the NFL's Top 100 list after the 2014 season. Pouncey's ability to pull and lead block from the center position is something few can do, even at the NFL level. This element of the Steelers offense has been missing in past years, and largely due to the fact Pouncey himself has been missing the past few years.
He missed all but 8 plays in 2013 when David DeCastro missed a cut block and tore his ACL, and after playing all of 2014 he missed all of last season when Green Bay Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton Dix rolled into his lower leg, breaking his ankle.
Pouncey told ESPN he had to have 7 total surgeries on his ankle last year. Some to fix the break itself, others to clean out an infection and a skin graft to help the wound heal.
Needless, to say, Pouncey has one goal in 2016 -- stay on the field.
"Things will be different this year. I am not trying to sit on the couch anymore." Pouncey told Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
The Steelers were attempting to take a cautious approach to Pouncey's return to offseason workouts, but the veteran lineman wasn't having it. "I am feeling great, baby. Feeling young," Pouncey said.
His teammates are also noticing a change in the Pro Bowl center.
"He's been killing it," Ramon Foster said. "I think he actually looks better. The experience and the drive he has, he has taken it up a notch. But it all comes back to him staying on the field."
With the horrid 2015 season behind him, Pouncey can now look back on what was, and use it as fuel to help him prepare for 2016.
"When you went through all of that and all the surgeries I went through, it is an experience that you don't want. But it is also a wake-up call showing you that football can be over at any point. It just hungers you and pushes you more."
The Steelers gave Pouncey a healthy new contract worth over $44 million dollars before the 2014 season, and it is time for him to earn his money on the playing field, not on the couch. Steelers fans everywhere can only hope that is the case next season.