NFL notebook

Steelers will go without center Pouncey

This video image courtesy of WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh shows snow and ice sliding off the roof of Cowboys Stadium. This video image courtesy of WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh shows snow and ice sliding off the roof of Cowboys Stadium. (Otto Schellin/Reuters/Wpxi-Tv Handout)
By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / February 5, 2011

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DALLAS — Steelers rookie center Maurkice Pouncey was ruled out for Super Bowl XLV tomorrow because of a high left ankle sprain suffered in the AFC Championship game.

Pouncey hobbled off the plane Monday on crutches and was optimistic he would be able to play despite not practicing all week. Pouncey, who was voted to the Pro Bowl, said his ankle could handle his 6-foot-4-inch, 304-pound frame, but it wasn’t strong enough to give him enough leverage to push back against opponents.

This will be the first game Pouncey, a first-round pick out of Florida, has missed. Doug Legursky, an undrafted second-year player from Marshall, will make his first NFL start at center. He started four games at right guard early in the season.

After yesterday’s practice, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told pool reporters that Pouncey’s injury will not affect the game plan.

“Obviously he’s a quality player, and how it affects the game, no one knows. But as far as what we do, we have a plan, and that won’t change,’’ Tomlin said.

The Steelers also will be without defensive end Aaron Smith (torn triceps), who has not played since Oct. 24 but wasn’t placed on injured reserve.

Driver is probable Packers wide receiver Donald Driver (quadriceps strain) was limited at practice for the second straight day but was listed as probable. “This is clearly just being safe,’’ coach Mike McCarthy told pool reporters.

Other probable Packers include tackle Chad Clifton (knees), center Jason Spitz (calf), and linebacker Frank Zombo (knee). Starting outside linebacker Erik Walden is questionable with an ankle sprain. If he can’t go, Zombo would likely start.

The Packers simulated some challenges with the anticipated noise inside Cowboys Stadium by pumping sound into the indoor facility during practice.

“I feel good about preparation,’’ McCarthy said. “I thought today was sharp.’’

Falling ice injures six The snow and ice that blanketed North Texas this week created a dangerous environment around Cowboys Stadium. Falling ice from the roof injured six people, one critically, yesterday afternoon, according to the Associated Press. None of the injuries were considered life-threatening. While all six went to the hospital, only two were transported by ambulance — one had head trauma/concussion and was stable as of yesterday evening, and the other suffered a shoulder injury.

Following the accident, all entrances to the stadium were closed. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said measures would be taken to clear ice and snow off the roof and improve conditions at the stadium before the game.

“Yes, they’ve already had, I believe, a helicopter going around identifying where this could be an issue,’’ Goodell said. “The likelihood is they’ll have to get somebody up there to get the snow off as soon as possible. So they’ll likely be going up first thing [today].’’

Goodell said safety is a priority.

“You’re dealing with some unique circumstances around the stadium right now,’’ Goodell said. “What we’re focusing on first is the people that were injured. The second is the safety of the people around the stadium, make sure that we can secure the area so they can continue to do what they need to do in a safe environment. I think they’ve taken the appropriate steps. But right now we’ll just be focused on the people who were injured and hope that they will be well.’’

Top rookies named Rams quarterback Sam Bradford was named the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, earning 44 of 50 votes from a nationwide media panel. Lions tackle Ndamukong Suh won the Defensive Rookie of the Year honor by a bigger margin, getting 48 votes. Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty drew the other two.

Only two other rookies received votes on offense: Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Williams earned four, and Pouncey had two. Bradford is the fourth quarterback since 2004 to win the award, following Ben Roethlisberger, Vince Young (2006), and Matt Ryan (2008).

Hall voting today The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee meets today to elect the Class of 2011, and three of the NFL’s top 10 rushers and one of its most dynamic cornerbacks lead a star-studded group of candidates.

Curtis Martin, Jerome Bettis, and Marshall Faulk are the running backs eligible for the first time for induction. Defensive back Deion Sanders also is a first-time contender, along with tackle Willie Roaf.

Holdovers include wide receivers Tim Brown, Cris Carter, and Andre Reed; tight end Shannon Sharpe; center Dermontti Dawson; defensive ends Richard Dent, Chris Doleman, and Charles Haley; defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy; senior nominees Chris Hanburger and Les Richter, both linebackers; and NFL Films founder Ed Sabol as a contributor.

At least four and a maximum of seven nominees can be elected. If six or seven make it, two must be senior nominees.

Haynesworth accused Redskins defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth was accused of simple assault in what police in Fairfax, Va., said was a case of road rage.

Fairfax County police spokeswoman Shelley Broderick said a 38-year-old man told investigators he was driving a Honda Civic in suburban Washington when he saw a pickup truck tailgating him and made a hand gesture. The driver of the truck, later identified as Haynesworth, got out of his car when the two vehicles stopped and reportedly punched the other driver.

Haynesworth has not been formally charged in the case. But a warrant has been issued in the case, and police have been in touch with Haynesworth’s attorney, Broderick said. Arrangements have been made for Haynesworth to meet with officers, and he will appear in Fairfax County General District Court at a later date.

Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie said in an e-mail to the AP that team officials are gathering information about the incident and would not comment further.

Titans talk to two The Titans interviewed their first candidates outside the organization in their search for a new coach, talking to Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. Tennessee has already interviewed two holdover assistants, offensive line coach Mike Munchak and offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger . . . The Panthers hired former NFL running back John Settle as running backs coach, filling one of the last openings on Ron Rivera’s staff.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Monique Walker can be reached at

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