Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was emotional while sitting on the bench with center Maurkice Pouncey at the end of last season’s playoff loss to the Browns and that reaction foreshadowed Pouncey’s retirement announcement early in the offseason.
Pouncey had been snapping the ball to Roethlisberger since 2010, so it has been a long time since the quarterback has worked with another center on a regular basis. On Tuesday, Roethlisberger responded to a question about Pouncey by joking that it was designed to make him cry before acknowledging that he still has to come to terms with the new reality in Pittsburgh.
“I joked that it’s not quite set in yet that he’s not here,” Roethlisberger said, via Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “It almost just feels like he’s just not here at practice right now. It’s going to be a tough thing to be out there and not have him. Not just because of his football presence, but because of his friendship and what he meant to all of us, me especially. It’s going to be different, but I think the other guys are excited for the challenge.”
B.J. Finney, J.C. Hassenauer, and third-round pick Kendrick Green are the players set to be in the mix for the center job. Green got Pouncey’s No. 53, but it remains to be seen if the rookie will be given the job right out of the gate.