PITTSBURGH -- Maurkice Pouncey sat at his locker with a large wrap around his injured right thumb and talked about missing Thursday's practice.
In the next breath, the Steelers center guaranteed he was playing Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
"I'm playing, 100 percent," Pouncey said. "Never any doubt."
Unless the coach says he's not?
"Who? What?" Pouncey asked in an agitated state. "Heck, Coach Tomlin wants me out there. So does Coach Munch. No, I'm good. People are making a bigger deal than what it is. Let's just go play, man. We've got a football game. I sat on the couch too long not to be ready to play."
Pouncey, of course, missed all of last season with an ankle injury, and last Sunday dislocated the top joint of his right thumb on the second play of the game. He went to the locker room and "they just popped it back in, stitched it up and I went back out."
Pouncey played the final series of the first quarter and through the second quarter before it popped back out and the Steelers shut him down. He underwent surgery the other day and the wrap is to protect the stitches. He expects to practice Friday and play Sunday. Pouncey said he can squeeze the ball and snap either shotgun or traditional style.
Someone asked him if he can hold.
"Want me to grab you?" Pouncey asked with a laugh. "Nah, I'm good, man. Believe me, I'm ready to rock."
ROTATION AT SAFETY
Defensive coordinator Keith Butler said the competition sprang up because of Golden's hamstring injury last month that cost him games against the Chiefs and Jets.
"Rob G was hurt a little bit, so what we tried to do was cover ourselves, like you've always got to do in practice," said Butler.
In that time, Davis showed his athleticism and began to improve.
"Mentally, you rarely see Rob G out of position," Butler said. "There's something to be said for that. Plus, he talks a lot. The guy alerts people to a lot of things, so it's hard to replace that, even though you've got somebody maybe a little bit better physically. So you kind of got to be careful in how you transition people in and out."
The rotation will continue through Sunday's game.
Heyward-Bey was again on crutches and in a walking boot at the facility, but said he expects to return in the near future.
Missing practice for the Cowboys on Thursday were two starters on each side of the ball. S Barry Church (forearm) and CB Morris Claiborne (groin) missed last Sunday's game in Cleveland and are expected to miss Sunday's game as well.
Missing consecutive practices on offense were linemen Tyron Smith (back) and Ron Leary (concussion).
Smith, perhaps the best left tackle in football, has struggled all season with a back problem, but has only missed games in Weeks 3 and 4. Leary, who replaced injured starter La'El Collins earlier in the season, left the Browns game in the fourth quarter and has since been in the concussion protocol.
* Pouncey on Ladarius Green: "He looks awesome in practice. Game speed will be a little bit different for him so we'll see how things turn out this week."
* Todd Haley on Green: "He's still got to finish up the week and again that'll be one of those that comes down to coach at the end of the week, what he decides to do."
* Pouncey on the practice week: "I like how Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday went for us. Practice has been great and the guys are really focused and locked in. Everybody's hungry. Everybody's pissed off we've been losing."
* Ryan Shazier on what he knows about Dallas LB Sean Lee: "In college, Penn State tried to call themselves Linebacker U, or whatever, so when I was at Ohio State and we played them we always tried to prepare ourselves and say 'We're the real Linebacker U.'"
* Shazier on former college teammate and current Dallas RB Ezekial Elliott: "I knew in his freshman year he was going to be in the running for the Heisman Trophy eventually. I knew he was that good. He had that much talent. He was behind a high draft pick in Carlos Hyde but Zeke is a great player. I knew he was going to be good and you can definitely see it the way everything's going on right now."