Pittsburgh Steelers center gives team option in case of emergency

Also, Ramon Foster returns to practice and the secondary endures more personnel changes.

PITTSBURGH -- Maurkice Pouncey joked that since he beat Le'Veon Bell down the field on Bell's 44-yard run Sunday night that maybe he should move from center to running back.

But Pouncey wasn't joking about the move the team asked him to make Wednesday at practice to help the Pittsburgh Steelers' injury-depleted offensive line.

Pouncey confirmed he was moved to right tackle during practice in preparation for an emergency situation should the Steelers run out of tackles Sunday against the New York Jets.

The Steelers on Wednesday were without tackles Marcus Gilbert (ankle) and Ryan Harris (shin) and were down to their emergency tackle, Chris Hubbard, who played one snap at tackle last season after spending most of his time practicing as a reserve along the interior.

The Steelers also have tackle/guard Matt Feiler out of Bloomsburg on their practice squad for a second consecutive season, and he's expected to get called up at the end of the week.

But if the Steelers don't make the move, they wanted to see if they could count on Pouncey in a pinch. He had only played there once -- during an OTA practice in 2013 -- prior to Wednesday's practice.

He said it went well.

"I made it look smooth out there today," Pouncey said. "We slid that way a lot, so it was nice. I understand what happens when we slide to Al (Villanueva) all the time. It's easy."

Pouncey also joked that it's easier to play in a two-point stance instead of crouching over the ball at his center position.

"It's a little easier coming from a two-point," he said. "Without snapping? Man, I don't know, I might like that. I might have to move my position next year for real."

Pouncey said he was almost forced to make the a similar move in Dallas late in the 2012 season.

"When Coach Koogs was here," Pouncey said of former line coach Sean Kugler. "We were playing in Dallas. He called me early in the morning and said get ready to play left tackle, Max Starks is out. I'm like 'Oh (expletive), hold on. First tackle rep against (DeMarcus) Ware? This (expletive) 'bout to get real."

Pouncey laughed heartily but said, "And then Max ended up playing. It was all good."

BIG RAGU RETURNS

With one hole open, another apparently closed with the return to practice of Ramon Foster to left guard. It would free up B.J. Finney to play center in case Mike Tomlin needs to use Pouncey outside.

Foster, who suffered a bruised sternum two games ago, said "I feel good. I wouldn't say a whole lot as far as yay or nay because I don't know how the rest of the week will be, but right now I'm feeling well."

Foster's best guess on the configuration of the line Sunday against the Jets?

"Just five guys doing their job," Foster said. "That's about all I know right now. We'll see if they move Matt up, or who's going to be where, if I'm going to play, whatever the case may be. Right now I think it's the regular four and Hub(bard)."

Does Foster think his buddy Pouncey could play right tackle?

"He'll tell you he's the best lineman in the league," Foster said. "Not just center, best lineman period -- D-line OR O-line. But, no, he'll be fine. He's done it before a year or two ago. I think he can do fine at it."

IN AND OUT

Justin Gilbert hurt a knee and the official practice report called him "limited." But don't expect the team's No. 5 cornerback to be available Sunday.

* Sean Davis, who played only one snap Sunday night due to a back injury, returned to practice and confirmed that he returned to his normal position as the No. 1 slot cornerback.

* Reserve interior lineman Cody Wallace said he took doctor's advice that his knee would heel on its own after no problem was found in "a couple MRIs." But when the knee didn't heal, he finally underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last Wednesday to repair cartilage damage behind his kneecap.

"I'm good to go now, hopefully," he said. "Probably be out at least a couple more weeks."

* Fullback Rosie Nix returned from a back injury for his first full practice since training camp.
* In addition to Gilbert, Harris and Wallace, also missing practice were Jarvis Jones (ankle), Eli Rogers (toe), Ryan Shazier (knee) and DeAngelo Williams (not injury related). Robert Golden (hamstring) was limited.

BIG BEN AGAIN

Ben Roethlisberger was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for the 14th time in his career.

Roethlisberger threw as many touchdown passes (5) as incompletions in completing 22 of 27 for 300 yards without an interception Sunday night against the Chiefs. It was the fifth time Roethlisberger has thrown at least five touchdowns in a game, making him the sixth quarterback in NFL history to accomplish the feat.


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