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Insider: Pouncey holding together Steelers' O-line

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By PFW staff

The following quotes are from NFL scouts, coaches and front-office personnel, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

• "(Pittsburgh rookie C Maurkice) Pouncey is pretty (expletive) good. The biggest question heading into the season was Pittsburgh's offensive line. (Trai) Essex is not the greatest. Max Starks and Chris Kemoeatu are guys. And they have been protecting third- and fourth-string quarterbacks, but collectively, they have not been a sieve, which is what everyone expected. There's one reason — Pouncey. He is strong and fast. The rest are big and slow-footed. When Pitt has a very good center — they know. It's why they drafted this kid. When they had Dermontti Dawson and Jeff Hartings, it made them so much better. To run the ball successfully, you need a quick-footed center. Teams that run well have one."

• "Ollie (Buccaneers offensive coordinator Greg Olson) has done a great job with Josh Freeman. Look at the quarterbacks he has coached — Jon Kitna at Central Washington. Drew Brees at Purdue. He went to San Francisco with Mooch (Steve Mariucci) and Jeff Garcia. They all swear by him."

• "I gave (undrafted Abilene Christian OLT) Tony Washington a third-round grade last year. The guy got stuck in a bad situation and is now a registered sex offender. What NFL owner wants to deal with that? These owners are not dealing with it anymore. They don't want the negative PR. But the guy is 6-6, 325 pounds and is built better than Ryan Clady with long arms and everything you want physically. It's a shame. He should be playing in the National Football League.

"(Jacksonville OG Uche) Nwaneri is OK, but he is not very quick and if he misses, he whiffs badly. Signing him to a big-money deal surprised me.

• "(Tennessee DT) Jason Jones has been playing at a Pro Bowl level. For what they ask him to do, playing on the move, he has been very disruptive. … (MLB) Stephen Tulloch has been playing his (butt) off too."

• "(Vikings DE) Jared Allen and Kevin Williams have not been playing as well this year. They have played good, but they have not been dominant the way they have been in past years."

• "(Broncos NT) Jamal Williams is aging and does not have the same base (strength) he used to. Any time a team rushes for 200-some yards the way Oakland did on (the Broncos), that falls on the nose tackle."

• "(Raiders RB) Darren McFadden is running better than he has in the past, but he is not blocking or catching the ball very well. He needs to get better picking up the blitz. To me, he's fairly one-dimensional."

• "(Redskins OLB Brian) Orakpo is very good rushing the passer, but he still gets run at and knocked off the ball. I wish he were better in their base defense playing the run."

• "No one in football has a scarier first step than (Pittsburgh OLB) James Harrison. He's so powerful and at 5-foot-11, gets under your pads and just bulls (blockers). He is a terror."

• "(Green Bay OLB Clay) Matthews does not have a patented go-to move where he could just beat a tackle creatively. (Dom Capers) schemes it up well to free him up on blitzes."

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