Maurkice Pouncey has torn ACL, MCL
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers lost more than just a game at Heinz Field.
Pittsburgh likely will be without two key starters for the rest of the season, as Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey and inside linebacker Larry Foote both suffered injuries Sunday that will require surgery.
Pouncey suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee during the Steelers' opening possession of the game while Foote sustained a ruptured biceps later in the 16-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh's first home loss in September under head coach Mike Tomlin.
When asked if they were season-ending injuries, Tomlin said, "I would assume so but that's an assumption at this point."
The injuries could exact a significant toll, as Pouncey is a three-time Pro Bowler who also anchors a young offensive line and Foote is a seasoned veteran.
"It's frustrating any time you lose guys that are key contributors, but that's the business we're in," Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel said. "It happens every year with every team. One man's misery is another man's opportunity, and someone's got to step up."
Pouncey is arguably the top center in the NFL, and his teammates elected the 24-year-old as a captain last week. The 6-foot-4, 304-pounder was a first-round draft pick in 2010 and became a starter shortly after the start of his first training camp.
Pouncey has since been a fixture at the position where the Steelers have produced such greats as Mike Webster and Dermontti Dawson.
Kelvin Beachum took over at center after Pouncey was carted off the field, and Tomlin said the second-year player did an "admirable" job. Beachum is a candidate to start at center, as is Cody Wallace, whom the Steelers signed last Sunday.
Pouncey suffered the injury when right guard David DeCastro fell on his right leg during a running play in the first quarter. He was taken to a hospital for an MRI, which confirmed that the injury was as bad as it looked.
"We were trying to cut [block] the nose [tackle], and I must have gotten a piece of Pouncey as well," DeCastro said. "I'm not very happy about it."
Neither is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
"You never like to see a guy get hurt, regardless of who it is," said Roethlisberger, who passed for 191 yards, one touchdown and an interception against the Titans. "[Pouncey] is our captain and our leader, and obviously a very good friend. It's tough."
It may be even tougher for Foote, who is 33 and in his 12th NFL season.
"I hope Larry recovers, that's a good friend of mine," outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. "But we've got to get ready for a game next week, so the guy behind him needs to be ready to step up this week and play."
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