Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is by no means a gambling man. The Packers are as clean cut as a slice of Wisconsin cheese, and when it comes to good fortune, Lambeau Field possesses a boatload of superstition.
Something has changed, though, in the past three weeks in Green Bay. The air seems clearer, the local bars seem more colorful, and the Packers are no longer bogged down with injury, penalty, tackling and playoff concerns.
Yes, a wave of good luck has hit general manager Ted Thompson to kick off the New Year. And quite frankly, the Packers were well overdue.
Keeping the luck streak going this past week, the lead up to Super Bowl XLV has been spiced up a little in the past 24 hours. While quarterback Aaron Rodgers continues to torment fans with a worrisome shoulder injury, Green Bay now see some good news float their way, in relation to Dallas’ history defining game next Sunday.
Turns out the Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t quite as solid as we all thought. Safety Troy Polamalu is back and close to 100% after a few fickle weeks to end the regular season, but with good news comes the bad – as center Maurkice Pouncey is now “highly doubtful” for the teams trip to Cowboys Stadium.
It is never easy to look at injury problem as a positive light. Missing the Super Bowl almost puts an ending to each and every backyard game played as a kid. Still, in the Green Bay Packers case, this injury might just spell a fourth Super Bowl ring if a lucky leprechaun is to play his part once again.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pouncey’s high ankle sprain that was deemed questionable this time last week, and has now been upgraded to a broken bone, clearly limiting the Steelers center in two weeks’ time.
Fundamentally so, team doctors underwent the usual x-ray method on Pouncey, although the results did come back negative. Nevertheless, fears now stand towards the long term stress on the ligaments.
Unfortunately for the Steelers, Pouncey is only a rookie, yet experiencing a remarkable season in his first year. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sacked five times during Green Bay’s last visit in 2009, paving the way for an offensive shootout in the dying stages.
That same scenario unfolding in Dallas is foggy at the present time.
While the Steelers try and decipher their next move however, Green Bay has a small window of opportunity to take serious action on defense. With no strong center in front of Roethlisberger, defensive coordinator Dom Capers can reconsider a blitz package worth implementing in Dallas.
But aside from plays and worthwhile schemes, Green Bay can also send linebacker Clay Matthews straight up the middle. Matthews accumulated two sacks against Roethlisberger last year, and with the New York Jets wreaking second half havoc against the Steelers passing game last week, it is painfully obvious that pressure is the Steelers worst enemy on offense.
Better yet, losing Pouncey also forces the Steelers to make a few personnel moves. Backup center Doug Lugursky is likely to take over next Sunday, but with only four games of experience to his name, Mike Tomlin may be left second guessing himself in the next nine days.
Therefore, expect the Steelers to work hard on the offensive line during practice. Much more will be expected from the likes of right tackle Flozell Adams and left tackle Jonathan Scott on either side, along with the inclusion of tight end Heath Miller, who offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was likely to utilize prior to Pouncey’s injury.
That move may have to be put on hiatus.
In other Steeler news, starting cornerback Bryant McFadden also skipped practice. McFadden is reportedly struggling with a strained abdomen, but is expected to make a full recovery in time for Dallas.
Green Bay’s passing defense has proved to be the deciding factor for the Packers this year. Cornerback Tramon Williams was a hero against both the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons consecutively, and just last week, rookie Sam Shields recorded two interceptions.
The same could be said for Pouncey, who has been the Steelers rock up front on the offensive line.
Good news for Green Bay, tough news for Pittsburgh. Pouncey isn’t out just yet, but the chances of him pulling a Dwight Freeney in his first year are slim to nil.
Ryan Cook is an Australian author for Acme Packing Company, and a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also a guest writer on PackerChatters, and a contributing writer to Detroit Lions Talk, Gack Sports and Sports Haze.