PITTSBURGH -- As he lay on the Heinz Field turf last September, his right knee in tatters, Maurkice Pouncey admits there was a small part of him that feared his football career might be in jeopardy. The Pittsburgh Steelers never doubted. They signed him to a five-year contract extension Thursday that averages $8.8 million per season, making Pouncey the highest-paid centre in the NFL. Words cant explain it," Pouncey said while fighting back tears, barely nine months removed from a torn ACL that ended his 2013 season moments after it began. The only centre in league history to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons is nearly all the way back from surgery to repair the knee after teammate David DeCastro fell on it eight plays into last falls season opener against Tennessee. The 24-year-old Pouncey insists hes "totally fine." The new financial deal puts him just ahead of the agreement signed by Clevelands Alex Mack in April. However, getting paid was the least of Pounceys concerns. Entering the final year of the contract he signed after the Steelers took him with the 18th overall selection in the 2010 draft, Pouncey simply ordered agent Jason Segal to get to work. "I didnt have much role in it," Pouncey said. "I told my agent to get it done as soon as possible so we could move on to other things." Namely getting the Steelers back into the post-season. Considered one of the most athletic linemen at any position in the NFL, Pouncey provides Pittsburgh with a gifted anchor to protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "That group up front is a special group as it is," Roethlisberger said. "Hes the glue that holds them all together." Even if the glue comes at a significant price. Pouncey has only played a full 16-game schedule once in his first four seasons and was forced to sit out Pittsburghs loss to Green Bay in the 2011 Super Bowl with a sprained ankle. Though he wont turn 25 until August, he finds himself as the linchpin of a unit whose oldest player is 28-year-old guard Ramon Foster. "Hes worked his butt off man," Foster said of Pouncey. "Its good to see his hard work is coming around to him. Were glad to have him back and the team commit to him like that." Its a commitment that never wavered as Pouncey underwent surgery and a grueling rehab last fall. Although Roethlisberger maintains Pouncey could have returned before the end of the 2013 season, the arduous recovery process isnt quite over. While Pouncey was a full participant in organized team activities that wrapped up on Thursday, he remains involved in near daily rehab work. The goal is to be 100 per cent by training camp in July. The contract means Pouncey wont have to deal with any potential distractions about his future. Besides, he never planned on leaving anyway. Free agency didnt appeal to him, particularly after the loyalty shown by the Steelers from the moment they chose him to follow in a line of great centres that includes Hall of Famers Mike Webster and Dermontti Dawson. Pounceys career arc is trending in that direction. Having the game taken away from him last September makes him eager to get back to work. "Ill do anything for this team," Pouncey said. "Theres true love here." Wholesale Arizona Cardinals Jerseys . Its a blessing and a burden for nine sons of former NHL players who are all expected to be taken in the first four rounds of the draft this weekend. Andy Isabella Jersey . -- Claudio Bieler hadnt scored since early September, and not from the run of play since mid-July. http://www.cheaparizonacardinalsjerseysauthentic.com/. -- Creighton apparently has Villanovas number. Cheap Cardinals Jerseys Authentic . The Swiss won on the fastest run-time tiebreaker after the four-racer teams tied 2-2. Wendy Holdener and Reto Schmidiger won their final heats against Julia Mancuso and Tim Jitloff, respectively. Hakeem Butler Jersey . - This win was more the New Jersey Devils style.St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Ryan Reaves and Dmitrij Jaskin scored in a 1:45 span late in the second period to snap a tie and send St. Louis to a 3-2 decision over Chicago in a Central Division clash at Scottrade Center. Jaden Schwartz also lit the lamp and Alex Pietrangelo added a pair of assists for the Blues, who put a two-game skid to rest. Brian Elliott made 22 saves for the hosts. Patrick Sharp registered a goal and assist for the Blackhawks, who have dropped back-to-back one-goal games on the road. Kris Versteeg scored, but Antti Raanta took the loss despite 28 stops. The Blues took the lead for good thanks to one controversial and one conventional tally. First, Maxim Lapierre rushed the Blackhawks crease, with the puck caroming back into the slot where Reaves pushed it forward. Play was blown dead without a definitive call being made, but a lengthy review revealed the puck barely crossing the goal line inside the left post and among a mass of bodies in the crease with 1:51 left in the second. Then, Jaskin followed a loose puck in the high slot from a Pietrangelo offering and ripped it home for his second career goal at 19:54. That was a bad goal, Raanta admitted of thee game-winner.dddddddddddd Versteeg pulled Chicago to 3-2 at 2:37 of the third, left alone up the middle to accept a Sharp feed and wrist it past Elliott. That was the only shot of 10 that eluded the Blues netminder in the final period. Chicago went with an extra attacker for the final 1:13 of regulation but failed to net an equalizer. Sharp opened the scoring just 62 seconds after the opening faceoff, during a two-man advantage, when he slammed home a Patrick Kane dish from the left post. Schwartz equalized for the hosts at 12:15, when his harmless poke from the slot managed to slip between Raantas pads. We played real well, Pietrangelo said. It was a tough start...but we did a fantastic job of overcoming. Game Notes The Blues have won nine of 15 meetings at home against Chicago since 2009 ... Blackhawks forward Dan Carcillo left the game with an apparent right leg injury and did not return. Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville said after the game that Carcillo will likely miss 1-to-2 weeks with a right knee issue ... Pietrangelo led all skaters with 25:52 of ice time ... Jaskins only other NHL goal happened against Chicago, on Dec. 28, 2013. 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