Pittsburgh’s offense suffered an enormous blow after Maurkice Pouncey went down with a knee injury during the first quarter of the team’s first regular season game this season. With the three-time “Pro Bowler” sidelined, Kelvin Beachum was tasked with finishing the game in Pouncey’s place.
Although Beachum filled in admirably, the Steelers’ brass needed to add depth at the position and probably wanted to utilize the team’s “Swiss army knife” in a number of roles along their offensive line as the season progressed. To help fill the enormous void at the center position, Pittsburgh acquired Fernando Velasco the following day.
To his credit, Velasco has started every single game at the center position since he was signed by the Steelers. Most importantly though, Velasco has developed a solid rapport with his All-Pro signal-caller.
According to a recent interview on Steelers.com, Ben Roethlisberger had the following to say about his current comfort level with his “new” center:
Yeah, very comfortable, obviously. We’ve been doing good. Communication has been great. Center-quarterback exchange has been good. You’ve got to give him a lot of credit. I’ve said it a thousand times that he’s filling in for the best center in football and he’s done a great job. My hat’s off to him.
It is hard to understate how important the acquisition of Velasco has been for the Steelers this year. Not only has he been able to develop a solid relationship with his new quarterback – one of the best fourth quarter quarterbacks in the game according to the TicketCity Blog – but he has also stepped in and stepped up for the player who was considered by many to be the “anchor” of Pittsburgh’s offensive line in the form of Pouncey.
It is a definite positive to see that the signing of Velasco has panned out for the Steelers in the short-term. Moreover, I for one am intrigued to see how much the veteran can improve as the season progresses while he becomes more comfortable with his offensive line-mates.
Most of all though, I hope that Pittsburgh’s brass will do their best to re-sign Velasco after this season as an insurance policy for their interior offensive line. His rapport with Roethlisberger cannot be understated, and a team can never have too many competent offensive linemen at their disposal.
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