Steelers confident offensive line can hum without Pouncey

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PITTSBURGH (AP) Doug Legursky wants to get something straight. The Pittsburgh Steelers didn't lure the veteran offensive lineman off the couch and back into the locker room to do his best Maurkice Pouncey impersonation while the four-time Pro Bowl center recovers from a broken left ankle.

''No one can fill the shoes of Pouncey,'' Legursky said Tuesday just hours after re-signing with the team he broke into the NFL with from 2008-12.

The Steelers, smartly, aren't even going to ask Legursky or Cody Wallace to try.

Working someone new into the mix barely two weeks before the regular season begins is tough enough. Doing it while expecting them to do the same things as Pouncey is borderline unfair.

''They'll be fine,'' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. ''They're not going to try and be Pounce. They're going to have to be the best they can be.''

And if the other 10 guys on the field do their job - particularly the four that will flank whoever snaps the ball to Roethlisberger - all the better. Last year tackles Kelvin Beachum and Marcus Gilbert and guards Ramon Foster and David DeCastro joined Pouncey in paving the way for the greatest offensive season by the franchise in its 82-year history.

Losing Pouncey for at least a couple of months is tough, but it's not nearly as catastrophic as it was in 2013 when Pouncey tore ligaments in his right knee on the eighth play of the season. Legursky had left in the offseason to join Buffalo, forcing the Steelers to sign Fernando Velasco on short notice. Velasco acquitted himself well through 11 games but the Steelers started 2-6 and failed to make the playoffs.

This time around they're hardly bringing in a stranger. Wallace started four games at the end of 2013 when Velasco was hurt while Legursky spent four seasons filling in at various spots, including a start against Green Bay in the 2011 Super Bowl when a bum ankle forced Pouncey to watch from the sidelines in sweatpants.

''The last time we brought in a guy who didn't know the system too much and now we've got two guys (who do),'' Foster said. ''Doug was in the system for five years before and Cody has been in the system for three years now and that's what we have to live on, is that those guys know what's going on.''

Wallace will likely be given the first crack at holding down the job until Pouncey returns. He saw extended time with the starters while Pouncey worked himself off the physically unable to perform list, with promising results.

''I would say there's more of a comfort level for me now than there was before, just because of the experience level,'' Wallace said. ''I've had a chance to work a lot with the guys, and I've played in a bunch of games.''

Not that it won't take some getting used to. Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell allowed it will take some time to get into a rhythm with Wallace, who could have a different idea about what protection call to make or how to set up a block than Pouncey.

''Pass pro it's a huge adjustment,'' Bell said. ''With Pounce, I've played with him so long, I know exactly what he's thinking. With Cody he might think something else or feel a different way about a certain protection and call something else. It's something we're going to have to work on. Hopefully it comes sooner than later.''

NOTES: LBs Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons sat out practice Tuesday with what coach Mike Tomlin called ''bumps and bruises.'' ... DT Stephon Tuitt is out for Saturday's game against Buffalo with a sprained left ankle but should be ready by the regular season opener at New England on Sept. 10.



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