Pouncey Lost To Friendly Fire

The Steelers couldn't get through eight snaps before losing their center and captain, Maurkice Pouncey, on a fluke play during a 16-9 loss.

It was a tactic the Steelers and their former nose tackle Casey Hampton couldn't beat, and so it became a tactic they embraced this season.

And they lost their All-Pro center and captain because of it.

Eight snaps into the season, the Steelers lost Maurkice Pouncey on a cut block that came from one of their own players.

As the Steelers' offensive line shuffled left to block for Isaac Redman, right guard David DeCastro dove with a lowered helmet with the intention of cutting the Tennessee nose tackle at the knee. But DeCastro instead slammed his helmet into

Pouncey's right knee and tore Pouncey's ACL and MCL. He's expected to be lost for the season. DeCastro was unsure it was his fault, but he'll eventually see it on tape.

"Obviously it's not something that David is intentionally trying to do," said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. "It really is one of the casualties of the game of football."

It's a casualty that shouldn't have happened, according to one player who watched Hampton fend off similar backside guards throughout a 12-year career.

"They need to change that stupid rule," said defensive end Brett Keisel. "I mean, I know it was friendly fire. But they talk about safety and whatnot, but that whole play, where someone's engaged and the backside guard is cutting, it's ridiculous. Guys are big enough and strong enough in this league to block.

"I've never liked that rule when it was happening to Casey, when it was happening to us. I just don't think it's a safe play. I know it's legal, technically, but it's been proven that guys are getting their knees blown out. I think they need to change it."

It would obviously be too late to get Pouncey back. Kelvin Beachum, who had prepared to play the injury-ravaged tight end position, moved inside to take Pouncey's place and will likely remain there.

"He did an admirable job under the circumstances," said Tomlin. "But tomorrow is a new day. It's the top of the week. We'll make the best decisions for us, globally speaking."

"I did some center during the preseason," said Beachum. "I've got two great guards beside me so if I happened to make a mistake they were able to correct it and we moved forward."

The Steelers couldn't run the ball before or after Pouncey left the game. On the first eight plays, the Steelers rushed for 5 yards on 4 carries. After Pouncey left, the Steelers rushed for 27 yards on 11 carries. This against the most scored-upon team in the NFL last season, a team that allowed a 31st-ranked 5.4 yards per carry in the preseason.

The Steelers played so poorly after the injury, some of the players were asked if it had a deflating effect.

"It's tough," said Ben Roethlisberger. "He's our captain and our leader, obviously a good friend. You never like to see a guy get hurt, regardless of who it is. It is tough."

Left tackle Mike Adams gave a resolute "No," to the question, adding, "I would say when he went down we were excited for Beach coming in. You do what you've got to do. You can't let stuff like that get you down. Football's a game of adversity and you've got to overcome those things. Of course we're not happy about it, but what are you going to do? Sit and cry during a football game?" NOTES -- The Steelers will also be without their playcaller on defense. Inside linebacker Larry Foote ruptured a biceps muscle and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Cortez Allen (sprained ankle) and LaRod Stephens-Howling (knee) also expect to miss time. Kicker Shaun Suisham injured his hamstring in pre-game warmups and could be a concern this week.

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