New Pittsburgh Steelers center Kendrick Green turned some heads when he debuted at rookie minicamp wearing the jersey number of his recently-retired predecessor Maurkice Pouncey.
While some initially believed it was too soon to issue his No. 53, Pouncey has apparently given the rookie his blessing to take up the mantle.
“It’s just a number — the memories are never given away,” Pouncey told ESPN’s Brooke Pryor. “My jersey number on every level after I left was given back out. It’s all a part of football.”
Green requested No. 53 initially, but was not sure he would be granted it given Pouncey’s standing with the franchise and recent departure. The significance of the number and the player who previously wore it is not lost on the rookie.
“They didn’t hand it to me. I wore 53 since high school. Obviously at Illinois I wore it as well. So I kind of requested it knowing that he had retired,” Green said. “I was fully prepared for them to keep it off, but they let me have it. I’ve got big shoes to fill, so gonna work towards that.”
Big shoes is right. Pouncey was named to nine Pro Bowls and earned a pair of First-Team All-Pro nods. Pouncey was also named to the All-Decade Team of the 2010s.
Still, the Steelers’ offensive line faltered last season in Pouncey’s final campaign, and Green was drafted to help rectify an anemic run game that was the NFL’s worst last season.
While both the Green and the Steelers will tell you he has not earned anything yet, it fairly obvious he was selected to be Pouncey’s immediate successor.
Pittsburgh will be hoping for a seamless transition, but at least the number will be the same.