Former Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey thinks there were unattainable expectations for Kendrick Green in his rookie year, especially with the team handing him No. 53, which was Pouncey’s number.
“I more hated it for him because they thought they wanted him to be me. I thought Kendrick is a really good player,” Pouncey said recently on former teammate Ramon Foster’s podcast.
Pouncey took no offense with the Steelers giving Green his former number. He even said that he received a text from the equipment manager letting him know that Green was going to wear No. 53.
“I said, bro are y’all f****** serious? Do you know how many numbers I had in my life? I was No. 9 for the Crystal Lake Panthers when I was a little kid. I wore No. 18 before because I thought I was Peyton Manning,” Pouncey said. “Numbers do carry a lot of memories, but it would be almost selfish and crazy in my mind for them to keep retiring more numbers.”
The Steelers signed guards Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig in free agency, so Green’s future with the team is certainly in doubt. He’s better at guard, but he started 15 games for the Steelers at center in his rookie season, and it wasn’t pretty. Pro Football Focus gave Green an atrocious 52.4 overall grade in 2021. Green started just four games at center at Illinois, but the Steelers thought he could play center in the NFL.
The Steelers replaced Green at center by signing Mason Cole in free agency. They also signed guard James Daniels, setting up a training camp battle between Kevin Dotson and Green. Dotson won the starting left guard spot, and Green ended up being inactive for every game in 2022.
Pouncey thinks the Steelers just need to be patient with Green and let him develop. He thinks it’s too soon to just give up on him.
“He needs time to develop. I mean he’s a little bit shorter. Obviously, he comes from a smaller school. I mean sometimes guys need time to develop,” Pouncey said. “I hate when you throw guys in there and they don’t develop as quickly and you think they’re not good players. Like how the hell did we draft him? We’ve seen something in him that the Steelers organization (likes). I mean they don’t just draft anybody, you know what I’m saying?”
Pouncey knows Green personally, as the two trained together in South Florida last offseason. During minicamp last year, Green discussed what he learned from the nine-time Pro Bowler.
“Just a lot of knowledge,” Green said of what he learned from Pouncey. “I think that was the biggest thing, just talking to him and seeing how he views the game, him and Mike (Pouncey), kinda like a big brother/mentor role. I learned a lot just from the few times I’ve been with him.”