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Steelers' offensive secret weapon: Maurkice Pouncey as pulling center

Watch highlights of Le'Veon Bell from last year and a theme will emerge -- center Maurkice Pouncey pulling to the right and uprooting a linebacker, giving Bell an extra second to find yards. In the NFL Network clip of Pouncey as the league's No. 83 player, former Steeler Ike Taylor talked at length about Pouncey's pulling skills.

"I think Le'Veon likes it a lot more than I do," said Pouncey of the pulling play.

A "pulling guard" is a common phrase used in offensive line jargon. Pulling center, not so much.

For all the Steelers' passing success last year, the running game and offensive coordinator Todd Haley deserve credit for finding creative ways to utilize Pouncey's athleticism.

Guard David DeCastro calls an effective pulling center "very rare" in the NFL.

"It's because of Maurkice's athletic ability," he said.

Asking Pouncey about the pulling play elicits a smile. He likes to imitate running backs when he can, even without the ball, getting downfield in a hurry and making plays.

"We drill it a lot," Pouncey said. "I think they believe in my athletic ability. We work it in practice and it works well in the games. But we have a lot of different schemes that we like."

Pouncey isn't sure if the Steelers will use him as a lead puller more or less in 2015, but he doesn't change his process at the line of scrimmage.

Get all the linemen set, identify the middle linebacker and attack the guy in front of him.

"Overall, I just love football," Pouncey said about sprinting downfield for blocks. "I love being out there and competing with other guys. That carries me a long way. I love it a lot. I was always drilled that in high school and college [to get downfield]. I’ve been taking it ever since."

DeCastro expects the Steelers to find more creative ways to use Pouncey in the running game.

"You tell him what to do and he’ll do it," he said.