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Friday, February 4, 2011
XLV: Packers won't face Pouncey

By Kevin Seifert

FORT WORTH, Texas -- The most significant injury story of Super Bowl XLV has reached its expected conclusion: The Pittsburgh Steelers have ruled out center Maurkice Pouncey from the game. Backup Doug Legursky will make his fifth NFL start -- but first at center -- on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

Pouncey
Pouncey
(Peter King of Sports Illustrated, the Pro Football Writers Association pool reporter this week for the Steelers, reports the Steelers have also ruled out defensive end Aaron Smith as well.)

There never seemed much doubt about Pouncey's status, but the Steelers delayed their final decision until Pouncey missed his third consecutive practice Friday. Legursky will be left to face Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji, a seeming mismatch, but our friends at Football Outsiders wrote extensively this week about other ways the Packers might attack the situation. Make special note of linebacker Clay Matthews' potential for a delayed blitz between the center and right guard.

"We're preparing for their offense," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Friday. "I don't think their protection schemes or their run concepts are going to change very much based on who's playing center, because Ben Roethlisberger is going to make that offense go. It will not change our approach defensively based on who's playing center."

Earlier this week, we discussed the likelihood that the Pouncey-Legursky discussion would overshadow another potential mismatch that could prove more important to the outcome of the game. Feel free to revisit our discussion on the Steelers' effectiveness when they run behind right tackle Flozell Adams.