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01-29-2011, 12:08 AM
Essex will be ready in case of emergency

By Mark Kaboly
Saturday, January 29, 2011

With Maurkice Pouncey more than likely out of the lineup for the Super Bowl, and the frequency that the Steelers linemen have been shuffled in and out of the lineup due to in-game injuries, Trai Essex is taking a crash course on the center position.

That's because following now starter Doug Legursky on the depth chart is Essex a guy who has never played the position at any level.

"Nope, none," Essex said. "I am not trying to worry anybody out there. I have practiced it a few times, though."

However, Essex has become quite versatile ever since being drafted in the third round in 2005 out of Northwestern strictly as a tackle.

Essex spent four years as a backup left tackle before moving to guard the past two seasons.

This year alone, he started five games at right guard and has actually played every position across the line except for center this season.

"That has been the story of our season so far," Essex said. "Guys have had to come in and perform just as well or better."

Although he has occasionally practiced at center in training camp the past couple years, and was Justin Hartwig's backup during Super XLIII in Tampa, that is as far as it has gone when it comes to the playing the position.

Still, Essex isn't overly concerned if he is called on against the Packers even if it is in Super Bowl XLV.

"Once I get in the game and in the flow of things, I'll be fine," Essex said. "It will be a first time for me, but after a couple of snaps of hitting somebody, I'll be OK."

Essex feels that two weeks worth of practice time will be enough for him to get acclimated to the position enough to be serviceable in an emergency.

"It is going to have to be," Essex said. "We will see. Hopefully, it doesn't come to that. Two weeks will hopefully be enough."


3: Super Bowl wins the Steelers have wearing their white jerseys.

3: Super Bowl wins the Steelers have wearing their black jerseys.

Steelers' super bowl takes

Inside linebacker James Farrior on what the Steelers got accomplished this week:

"I think we got a good head start on everything we're going to be doing next week. We already have a game plan set, and with all of the distractions, we'll still have it under our belt no matter what goes on during the week. We already have our base, and next week's going to be really like a refresher."

Free safety Ryan Clark on whether the Steelers have an advantage because they have more experience dealing with the Super Bowl:

"I don't know. Last year the Colts had been there; the Saints had never been. You can look at it a lot of different ways. The biggest thing is we're focusing on what the Steelers need to do. We had a good week of practice. I think we prepared well. Now, it won't be the hustle and bustle of trying to get it understood and get it started once you're in Dallas."

Tight end Matt Spaeth on Steelers featuring the run more in recent weeks:

"It's hard to explain. You always try to establish the run. Maybe we're finally peaking. If that's the case, we're peaking at the right time.''

Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who attended SMU, on returning to Dallas for the Super Bowl:

"I never could have imagined this. God has blessed me. First year out of college, to go to the Super Bowl and come back to my home state and play in front of family and friends, I couldn't have asked for a better scenario.''

Defensive end Aaron Smith on helping fellow defensive end Ziggy Hood:

"My role? I don't know if I had a whole lot to do with that. He's gone out on the field and done the work. He's done a wonderful job.''

Mark Kaboly can be reached at mkaboly@dailynewsemail.com or 412-664-9161.

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