Steelers coach won’t rule Maurkice Pouncey out for Super Bowl
Maurkice Pouncey still has a shot at playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin would not rule out his Pro Bowl rookie center Monday, despite Pouncey’s having a high left ankle sprain. Pouncey needed crutches to walk down the steps from the team’s charter flight in Dallas, and wore a bulky walking boot on his left foot.
“We’ve been very aggressive in terms of treating it,” Tomlin said. “We’ve even been putting it in hard casts and so forth. Just trying to do everything in our power to give him the best opportunity to participate. I don’t know what his chances are at this point.”
Pouncey injured his ankle in Pittsburgh’s 24-19 victory over the New York Jets in the AFC championship game on Jan. 23. He did not practice at all last week, and Tomlin said Pouncey is “not on a running clock” until Wednesday — the team’s first practice before the Super Bowl.
“We will remain hopeful,” Tomlin said.
According to media reports, Pouncey also has a broken bone in the ankle — a report Tomlin would neither confirm nor deny.
“I’m sure it could be characterized as that,” Tomlin said vaguely. “I’m sure I’ve got something floating around in my ankle. The issue that’s keeping him from participating is the high ankle sprain.”
Backup Doug Legursky, who lost out to Pouncey for the job in training camp, would fill in if necessary. Legursky is a former undrafted free agent from Marshall who was on the Steelers’ practice squad during their last Super Bowl win two years ago.
Goodell, Smith meet
Trying to kick-start lagging labor talks as the Super Bowl approaches, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and union executive director DeMaurice Smith met Monday in New York and drew up a schedule for new negotiating sessions.
Goodell and Smith spoke about “a range of issues related to a new collective bargaining agreement,” according to a joint statement released by the league and union.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello would not reveal details of those discussions.
Goodell and Smith also met Jan. 19 in New York, where the league has its headquarters.
Monday’s session was described in the joint statement as “part of a process to intensify negotiations.” It said Goodell and Smith “agreed to hold a formal bargaining session with both negotiating teams on Saturday in the Dallas area.”
“They also agreed to a series of meetings over the next few weeks, both formal bargaining sessions and smaller group meetings, in an effort to reach a new agreement by early March,” the statement said.
The sides haven’t had a full group, formal negotiating session since November.
The current CBA expires at the end of the day March 3, and the union expects the NFL to lock out players as soon as the next day.
Bengals fire coordinator
The Cincinnati Bengals fired longtime offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski, the first change in their coaching staff following a 4-12 season that is still reverberating through the franchise.
The move came two weeks after quarterback Carson Palmer asked to be traded because of the franchise’s futility. The Bengals have only two winning records in the last 20 years.
Bratkowski has been the offensive coordinator since 2001, two years before Marvin Lewis took over as coach. The Bengals reached the playoffs in 2005 with a balanced offense that featured Palmer and a core of young receivers. Knee and elbow injuries limited Palmer over the next few years.
The Bengals made it back to the playoffs in 2009 after switching to a run-based offense that Lewis preferred. Their inability to throw the ball successfully in the playoffs prompted yet another philosophical switch — Cincinnati signed receiver Terrell Owens at the start of training camp last July to team with receiver Chad Ochocinco.
The Bengals threw the ball a lot more and won a lot less, dropping 10 straight games. Owens complained about the coaching and said he wasn’t getting the ball thrown his way enough. Running back Cedric Benson said the team made a mistake by going away from the run-first philosophy that got it to the playoffs in 2009.
The Oakland Raiders hired longtime assistant Bob Wylie as their new offensive line coach. Wylie spent last season sharing offensive line coaching duties for the Denver Broncos. He has also been a line coach with Arizona, Tampa Bay and Chicago, while coaching tight ends for Cincinnati and the New York Jets. Wylie has coached seven offensive linemen who earned Pro Bowl berths. … The Cleveland Browns hired former Miami offensive coordinator Mark Whipple as their quarterbacks coach. … The Tennessee Titans started their search to replace Jeff Fisher as head coach by staying in-house for their first interview with Hall of Fame lineman Mike Munchak, the team’s offensive line coach. … The Pro Bowl earned its highest television rating since 2000. The NFC’s 55-41 victory over the AFC in Honolulu on Sunday drew a 7.7 rating and 12 share on Fox. That’s up 8% from last year, when the game first moved from after the Super Bowl to the week before it.
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