After spending two weeks denying reports that rookie center Maurkice Pouncey was ruled out for the Super Bowl, the Pittsburgh Steelers finally admitted that they would be without their young Pro Bowler. The result is second-year center Doug Legursky from Marshall will start in Pouncey’s place, and that is a big advantage for the Green Bay Packers.
Legursky replaced Pouncey in the AFC Championship Game when Maurkice hurt his ankle (the injury that resulted in him missing the Super Bowl). Doug botched a snap to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that resulted in a fumble in that game, something that should never happen. Even though they’ve had two weeks to practice and get in-sync, it’s still a difference in comfortability for the quarterback to have someone new snapping him the ball.
The other area where Pouncey’s injury will be a major factor is blocking. Legursky is 6’1″, and though he’s strong, he’s shorter than the 6’4″ Florida rookie. Green Bay runs a 3-4 defense, lining up nose tackle B.J. Raji in front of the center frequently. Though Raji often hangs back in zone coverage if he recognizes pass plays, he should be able to push Legursky around on runs, and be able to get his hands up to block passes.
It’s not often that injuries not related to the quarterback have such an impact on a football game, but this could be one. We’ve already seen what Raji can do based on his big play in the NFC Championship Game. Don’t be surprised if he has an even bigger impact on the Super Bowl.Google+