Maurkice Pouncey stood at his locker on Wednesday morning, took a quick glance toward where Devlin Hodges’ locker is just a few away from his, and just smiled.
“He is an exciting kid,” said Pouncey. “He's motivated. He has a lot of confidence. That is what you like to see in a quarterback.”
And then Pouncey added.
“He is cool as hell too.”
Maurkice Pouncey has spent the majority of his Pro Bowl career under center for Ben Roethlisberger, a seasoned veteran in his 16th NFL season.
For the second time this year, he could find himself under center for a quarterback’s first NFL start. With Mason Rudolph coming off a concussion, Devlin Hodges could be the man under center when the Steelers take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday night football. And Pouncey doesn’t mind it one bit.
“Whenever you have a kid like that who can make all of the throws and is really into the offense, and wants to learn,” said Pouncey. “I am old enough so when you see younger guys like that and they are really into it, it makes you feel a little more special.”
Hodges stepped in last week against the Ravens when Rudolph left the game and played with a confidence far beyond his game experience. Mind you this is a player who wasn’t drafted, wasn’t even signed after the draft. He was signed after he came to Steelers minicamp on a tryout basis and had a strong showing. He was released before the start of the season, signed to the practice squad after the team traded Josh Dobbs to the Buccaneers and then activated after Ben Roethlisberger was injured.
And now he could be the team’s starter on Sunday.
“He was a star in camp. He was patient, poised,” said Pouncey. “You could tell he has been around offenses a long time and knows how to adjust to things. It was awesome to see. He was the star at camp. All of the guys thought he was going to make it here. We are all happy for him to be back. He is a positive kid and we like being around those type of guys.”
Pouncey said having Hodges around all through OTAs, minicamp, training camp and the preseason is a huge advantage if he is called upon because he has taken plenty of snaps when Roethlisberger would get days off in camp and so forth.
“He has been here since camp, so we are cool,” said Pouncey. “Ben takes days off, so he got an opportunity to get more snaps than most quarterbacks in that position do. It was cool to be around him and have that experience with him. He approached it the right way. He was a young kid that came in and attached to the veterans and guys like that.”
Another thing it seems like every guy in the locker room likes is Hodges’ confidence. Whether it be his offensive teammates he works closely with, or the defensive guys who have seen first-hand how he competes, everyone loves approach.
“He showed confidence,” said Mike Hilton. “The moment didn’t seem too big for him. He was able to make a lot of great throws. We are confident in what he can do. You saw that Sunday. He stepped in and make a lot of great plays.
“As a defense we want to make it as easy as possible. Try to get them the ball as much as possible and put them on a short field.”