Maurkice Pouncey quietly ready for debut

PITTSBURGH -- Memo to Steeler Nation: This is a big week for center Maurkice Pouncey, too.

PounceyPounceyThe rookie first-round pick is making his NFL debut Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. But he's not getting nearly as much fanfare this week, because most of the attention is on quarterback Dennis Dixon's second career start.

"I'm happy," Pouncey said with a big smile Wednesday. "Don't talk about me; I play center. I don't want all that publicity."

A lot of responsibility will rest on Dixon's shoulders. But Pouncey will be there blocking in front of Dixon every step of the way. With a rookie center snapping to a young quarterback, there are some concerns about Pittsburgh's offense. The Steelers need to take care of the football and win the battle in the trenches this week to help Dixon.

But it's been so far, so good for Pouncey, who already looks like a star in the making. He has a good combination of tenacity and mobility, which is needed on Pittsburgh's offensive line. The Steelers will be inexperienced up the middle, but Pouncey doesn't see it as an issue.

"We're ready," Pouncey said of Dixon and himself. "We're professionals. I don't look at it like that. He was actually the first guy I snapped to [in minicamp]."

Win or lose Sunday, much of the adulation or blame naturally falls on the quarterback. But Pouncey's NFL debut also will be vital to Pittsburgh's offensive success against Atlanta.