Steelers Pro Bowl C Maurkice Pouncey will not play in Sunday's playoff game against the Broncos due to a left ankle injury. The news was first reproted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Pouncey's injury marks another blow to a Steelers rushing attack that was already middle of the pack with its 118.9 rushing yards per game average. RB Rashard Mendenhallis out for the year with a torn ligament in his right knee. Mendenhall led the Steelers in rushing yards this season. They'll also be without running backs coach Kirby Wilson, who will not travel to Denver after suffering "moderate to severe" burns in a kitchen fire at his home on Friday morning.
The No. 18 overall pick out of Florida in 2010, Pouncey has started 30 games in his first two seasons with Pittsburgh. He missed two games earlier this season, due to the same ankle injury, but returned to face Cleveland in Week 17. He apparently suffered a setback in practice following the Browns game and was limited in practice on Wednesday, before missing practice on Thursday. Pouncey has had ankle problems throughout his career. He also missed Super Bowl XLV with a left ankle injury.
The Steelers went 1-1 without Pouncey earlier this season. They ran over the Rams without him, but accumulated just 84 rushing yards in their 20-3 loss to the Niners the previous week. QB Ben Rothelisberger was sacked three times in that game, though he too was limited with an injured ankle in that game.
The Steelers are expected to put starting OLG Doug Legursky in at center, and put another frequent starter, Chris Kemoeatu, in at guard, just like they did in last year's Super Bowl.