By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — Rookie Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey was not on the field or available for comment in the Pittsburgh Steelers locker room today, but most of his teammates were cautiously optimistic that he could play in the Super Bowl.
The Steelers (14-4) face the Green Bay Packers (13-6) in Super Bowl XLV Feb. 6 at Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“I think it’ll be tough,” Starks said. “Then again, Maurkice has always been one of those guys who defies odds. He’s always played big and played hard, so I would like to see him finish off his rookie year by playing in the Super Bowl. I guess we’ll no more next week.”
Pouncey was joined by safety Will Allen (knee), cornerback Bryant McFadden (abdomen), safety Troy Polamalu (Achilles), wideout Emmanuel Sanders (foot) and offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (ribs). Defensive end Aaron Smith was listed as a limited participant, but all he did was team drills.
“We’ll see where I am at the end of the week,” Smith said Wednesday after practice. “I have to…
“talk to the doctors, but we have two weeks before the big game. So, we’ll see. I would like to have an answer before we leave, but I’ve gone this far. So, we’ll see what happens and go from there.”
Despite limited on-field work the past couple weeks, Smith still believed it was feasible to play, only because the Steelers have more time to get ready.
“It’s basically been three months, so it’s been a while,” Smith said. “And there’s certainly a possibility that I can play. I haven’t had any MRIs since the last one, but I have to talk to the doctors now. So, we’ll see what we do after that. (But) I have a better range of motion in my right shoulder and arm than I do in the left one, if you can believe that.
“I don’t have any problems with it. And even if I play, it won’t be a full game. I think Ziggy’s done a fantastic job and deserves to get all the snaps he can get in that game. He’s the one who has carried us this far at that position, so he really deserves it. But I’d like to at least play a snap here and there to help out as much as I can, so we’ll see what happens.”
Throughout his three months on the sideline, Smith has tried to remain positive. And his teammates certainly have done the same. In fact, everyone has talked about how great it would be to win the Super Bowl for a guy like Smith, who has meant so much to the Steelers for more than a decade. Smith is humbled by all the attention and compliments.
“I feel strongly about those guys, too,” Smith said. “I can’t help but fantasize and dream about running out on that field for the Super Bowl. To be part of something so special, helping my teammates win the Super Bowl, that would be the best possible situation for me after all that I’ve been through this season.
“(But retiring) has never crossed my mind, and I really try not to think about those decisions when it’s an emotional situation like this one. I think it would come down to me trying to play, and then if I figured out that I couldn’t do it or didn’t enjoy it then I would have to make a choice. But I’m not there yet.”
McFadden said while he has had some post-game swelling and soreness in his abdomen, he remains positive that with an additional week to get ready he should be in the best shape that he’s been in for weeks.
“I’m trying to get better, but I basically have two weeks,” McFadden said. “So, I just have to take care of it, rest, rehab and get treatments. We’ll see where I am at this time next week. But I’m a lot better than I was last week, mentally and physically, about the situation. And that’s because we have two weeks.
“So, that’s the key. Since we have so long before we play, I’m looking forward to getting healthier and getting prepared for the Super Bowl. … There was a little bit of swelling and soreness, but the main thing is that I didn’t go back to Square 1. I didn’t want to start over, so I feel like I’m ahead of last week.”
Unlike Smith’s outlook, McFadden expected to start in the Super Bowl.
“We’re finally indoors for a game, so that’s going to be nice,” McFadden said. “The cold weather makes it tough to keep your body warm, and I needed to stay as warm as possible. So, a good week of rehab this week and then practice in the warmer weather should be a big help to me.”
Packers Practice: Linebackers Erik Walden (ankle) and Frank Zombo (knee) did not practice Wednesday, while linebacker Desmond Bishop (ankle), offensive tackle Chad Clifton (neck), linebacker A.J. Hawk (knee), wideout Greg Jennings (knee) and center Jason Spitz (calf) worked out on a limited basis.