No one can deny that Pittsburgh’s offensive line has been a walking MASH unit of sorts this fall. Unfortunately for the Steelers, their offensive line was struck by a multitude of injuries on Thursday night. Kelvin Beachum and his backup Mike Adams both exited the game, but the biggest lost might have been Fernando Velasco who went down with a leg injury on the team’s final drive.
Velasco, who was signed to replace Maurkice Pouncey before Pittsburgh’s second game, did not look good after he was rolled up on near Baltimore’s goal line late in the game. In fact, Scott Brown of ESPN.com had this to say regarding Velasco and his injury:
If Velasco’s leg injury is indeed serious, then the Steelers could be in dire straits when it comes to their fortunes at the center position during their final four games of the regular season. While I personally believe that Pittsburgh’s season “ended” with last night’s loss to Baltimore due to it being a division loss and another AFC defeat, the Steelers will still need a center to limp to the barn with if Velasco’s 2013 campaign is finished.
One option could be moving Beachum back to center, a place where he took second team reps at during the preseason and filled in for Pouncey for most of the opening game against the Titans. Of course, Beachum will not only have to be healthy enough to play, but Pittsburgh will have to feel confident that someone can replace him at left tackle. While Beachum is nothing special on the blind-side, he is the best option the team has at the position until they can fill that hole through the 2014 NFL Draft in May.
Pittsburgh could also turn to Cody Wallace if they are not comfortable moving Beachum to center. Wallace, who stepped in for Velasco for the offense’s final plays against the Ravens, had only played guard for the Steelers this season up until his entry into last night’s game. In fact, Wallace has yet to start an NFL game at the center position during his entire NFL career (2009, 2011-2013).
Whatever they decide to do though, kudos must go to Velasco for his solid play in Pouncey’s place this year. Not many could step in for an All-Pro at one of the offensive line’s most important positions. Nevertheless, the veteran Velasco provided Pittsburgh with some stability for 11 straight games.
At this point however, it appears like Wallace and Beachum are Pittsburgh’s only options to turn to if Velasco is unable to suit up for next week’s game or at any point during the team’s final four games. Personally, I do not think the Steelers have enough adequate depth at tackle to move Beachum if he is healthy enough to play. Thus, they could very well be enlisting the services of Wallace when they take on the Miami Dolphins in eight days.
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