Published November 20, 2014
Maurkice Pouncey's Super Bowl dreams are officially over.
The Pittsburgh Steelers placed the Pro Bowl rookie center on injured reserve Saturday, a day after ruling him out for Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers with a high left ankle sprain. Center-guard Dorian Brooks was signed from the practice squad to take Pouncey's roster spot.
Pouncey was injured in the AFC championship game against the New York Jets nearly two weeks ago and was unable to practice since.
Backup Doug Legursky will make his first NFL career start at center Sunday in Pouncey's place. Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Marshall in 2008, Legursky started four games at guard earlier this season.
The Steelers, going for their seventh Super Bowl title, also completed their final practice session at TCU's indoor facility. According to a pool report distributed to the media, it was a relaxed walkthrough in front of family members and other guests, including Hall of Famers John Stallworth and Mel Blount, who each won four rings with Pittsburgh.
A relaxed and playful quarterback Ben Roethlisberger practiced while wearing the No. 99 jersey of teammate Brett Keisel, whose overgrown beard was a popular topic of discussion this week.
Coach Mike Tomlin wanted family members at the walkthrough to help the players stay focused on the night before the Super Bowl, repeating a strategy he used two years ago when the Steelers won their last title.
"Nothing else was normal," Tomlin said after the nearly 45-minute session. "But there's not a lot about this week that is (normal), so we're not going to fight against it. We're going to embrace it."
The players also gathered at midfield and took team and family photos.
"It's twofold," Tomlin said. "We want to honor them, of course, because their love and support is the reason why these men are here. But also we use them to a degree because we had to get some work done today and nothing outside of the white lines was normal. ... This is a mock game for us. It represented just that. It was unique in terms of the people that were outside the field, but the work we got done inside the white lines was very normal for a Saturday."
The Steelers also had a special guest watching practice in 16-year-old Randy Stephens of Wheeling, W.V., who received a gift from the Make-A-Wish Foundation to attend the Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium. Roethlisberger, Hines Ward and Casey Hampton posed for pictures with Stephens and signed a football for him.