Four years ago when the Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins last faced each other, Dolphins center
This Sunday, Maurkice will be watching from the sidelines in street clothes at his home stadium of Heinz Field when the Steelers host the Dolphins. The two brothers are best friends and were looking forward to playing against each other for the first time before Maurkice suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Steelers’ opening game against the Tennessee Titans, tearing the ACL and the MCL.
“There’s no question you always want to see your brother playing,” said Mike Pouncey, who like his brother the year before was taken in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft by Miami. “I hate that he’s going through what he’s going through this year but he’s a tough dude. He’s just rehabbing right now and he’s a captain on that football team, so he’s still up there everyday with those guys. It’s just going to be fun to go up there and see him and finally get to play against his football team.”
Even though only one of the brothers will actually be on the field and playing in the game, they are still treating this weekend as a special one.
“It’s going to be fun. Our whole family’s going to be there and we’re still going to do our pregame stuff that we had planned,” Mike Pouncey said. “He’s going to take care of the offensive line and we’re going to have our O-line dinner at his house when we land so it’s going to be a good weekend. We ordered from The Capital Grille. You know the linemen have got to eat steak.”
Prior to going into the NFL, the Pouncey brothers were always on the same team going back to youth football, high school football and of course at the University of Florida. They have a friendly competitiveness between them and it was revealed at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine when Mike stood at the podium in front of the media and mentioned how critical it was for him to be drafted higher than Maurkice was in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Mike Pouncey ended up being selected three spots higher than his twin brother with the 15th overall pick, but then they went back to being brothers and friends and helping each other during the season. They watch each other’s game film week in and week out and critique each other while also helping out with upcoming games against familiar opponents. That won’t happen this week.
“He’s not giving me any tips,” Mike Pouncey said. “He has a lot of loyalty to his football team and those guys and so we just keep it to the basics with our friendship. He doesn’t give me any tips and I’m definitely not giving him any. This would be the first time I’ve beat him in something if we do beat him and it’ll probably be a long time before he can get back at me because we only play them every (three) years.”
That next meeting will be back in South Florida, when it will be Mike’s turn to host the dinner for Maurkice and his offensive line.
KICKING IN PITTSBURGH NO WALK IN THE PARK
The last time the Dolphins played in Pittsburgh was on a Monday night in 2007 right around Thanksgiving (November 26th). There had been a whole lot of football played on Heinz Field that weekend with high school playoffs on Friday night and the University of Pittsburgh on Saturday, plus some heavy rain.
Grounds crew personnel tried to replace the sod in time for the primetime contest and had some trouble, resulting in a very soggy field. Bad weather that night with lighting in the area actually delayed the start of the game, which was on by Pittsburgh, 3-0, and only punter
“I remember the ball that (Brandon) punted that stuck in the ground but I didn’t know it was him,” Sturgis said. “I’ve heard Pittsburgh’s one of the toughest places to kick and I’ve heard about that one open side where guys haven’t been that successful at it. I’m looking forward to getting out there early and kind of looking around and getting any kind of pointers I can get.”
Head Coach Joe Philbin is also well aware of the challenges playing in that stadium can bring to the kicking game for Sturgis and Fields.
“I’m not a meteorologist but I think that open end and the wind, I think it can play some tricks,” he said. “Each stadium is unique and we’ve got to get down there and get our kickers loose before the game and they’re going to have to deal with the elements just like the Pittsburgh kickers will.”
THIS AND THAT
After three days of ideal practice conditions outdoors, the Dolphins took it back inside this morning into the practice bubble. That’s been the routine all season on Fridays. … There was a couple of impressive displays of athleticism during the portion that was open to the media, highlighted by cornerback
Hip Hop was the theme this morning during the warm-up and stretching period, starting with the classic by House of Pain, “Jump Around.” Then it was “Ride Wit Me,” by Nelly featuring City Spud and Black Sheep closed things out with “The Choice Is Yours.”
THE LAST WORD
“For me it’ll be special because I get to go back to Pennsylvania and see some family and it’ll be my first time playing back in Pa. since playing at Penn State. So I’m excited to get in the cold weather, snowy weather, sleet or whatever it is. I’m excited.” – defensive tackle