After months of rehab, Chargers center Mike Pouncey received clearance from his doctor to play in 2020.
"I feel great," Pouncey said on a Zoom call. "It's still a process coming back from neck surgery, so I'm just in the rehab stages. But yes, if you were to ask the doctor that did my surgery, I've been cleared to play."
Pouncey was placed on IR week five of the 2019 season after he suffered a neck injury against the Denver Broncos. He was operated on in Pittsburgh and has done everything asked of him by doctors.
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"I'm back to training normally like I always have," Pouncey said. "I've come back from surgery before. I understand that any surgery you come back from is going to come with a mental block. It's never been a problem for me, and I don't think it will be this time. I'm a guy who really believes in what's going to happen is going to happen. I'm excited to get back out there and be able to play football again."
It's no secret that the Chargers offensive line has been better when Pouncey is the center. In 2018, they were at the bottom of the league in snacks allowed, and the line opened holes for the running backs. Last season, the offensive line struggled to protect the quarterback or open up running holes.
The team hired former Green Bay Packers offensive line coach James Campen to fix their most vulnerable position on the offensive side of the ball. He said on Wednesday during a Zoom call with the media that he met with Pouncey when he first got to LA and seemed excited to be able to count on his center.
“I think with a player of his magnitude, you already see his leadership qualities in the Zoom meetings,” Campen said. “I have a high regard for him. His athletic ability is off the charts.”
The team signed Pouncey in 2018 after the Miami Dolphins released him. He became a pro bowler that season and made life easier on his quarterback at the time Philip Rivers, who signed with the Indianapolis Colts in the offseason.
"I feel like every Philip Rivers fan feels: It sucks to see him play for a different football team," Pouncey said. "I guess all of us have admired him his whole career, the player that he's always been, the person that he is, and I wish him nothing but the best. I'm going to miss everything about him."
The 30-year-old center acknowledged that Rivers' preparation was top-notch, but quickly spoke about what Tyrod Taylor brought to the team. Pouncey will be snapping to a new quarterback, whether it is Taylor or Justin Herbert.
"I really believe in Tyrod. I think he's a guy that's proven himself in this league. He's a baller. Everyone is seeing it, being a part of [the] team last year," Pouncey said. "And a guy like Justin Herbert, drafting him in the first round, you see the potential that he has. He's a big kid, big arm, and if you ever watch him throughout his college career, you know that he's very explosive throwing the football and running the football."
Pouncey will not only be snapping to a new quarterback but will have two new players on his right side in guard Trai Turner and right tackle Bryan Bulaga. The former Gator said he has followed their careers, knows how talented they are, and is excited to play with them this season.
Speaking of this season, it seems like the NFL is a full go for this season, while California remains under "safer at home" restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. Pouncey was asked if he didn't mind playing elsewhere if the state doesn't allow them to have training camp or play their season.
"Yeah, I think so," Pouncey said. "All of us are dealing with change throughout these tough times, and I think this is something that everybody in the world has to adjust to, not just us as football players. So, we're all professionals... If we have to go move to a different state or a different city to be able to get back to work and help feed our families, then I'm sure a lot of guys, most of the guys, would be up for it."