The center position has been a revolving door of sorts for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season.
All-Pro Maurkice Pouncey was lost for the entirety of the 2013 campaign after less than one quarter of play. Swiss Army knife Kelvin Beachum, who finished the game in Pouncey’s place, was replaced by veteran Fernando Velasco before Pittsburgh’s second regular season contest. Thankfully for the Steelers, that move proved to be fruitful for the following 11 weeks as the versatile Beachum emerged as a solid stopgap at left tackle and Velasco did the same at center.
Sadly for Pittsburgh’s offensive line, the Achilles injury suffered by Velasco on Thursday night cost the veteran the rest of his 2013 regular season. Moreover, Velasco’s injury forced the Steelers to call upon the seldom used Cody Wallace to fill in at center for hopefully the rest of the 2013 campaign.
Wallace, who has only played in 15 games during his four years in the league, has actually not started a game at the professional level at all. In fact, Wallace’s first and only action before the Baltimore game this season came at the right guard spot against the Oakland Raiders in Week 8. Inexperience aside, the veteran appears to be hungry to take advantage of his new opportunity according to Teresa Varley of Steelers.com:
I am ready for it, … I have been here all year. I have had a chance to learn everything. I will step in and hopefully fill in just as well as Fernando did and not miss a beat.
It will be my first real NFL start, … It will be a lot different than the preseason games. I feel good about my conditioning level. I think I will be okay in there. I will be able to identify the fronts and see blitzes coming. There are things you can pick up off guys. You just have to study your film.
Ready or not, the starting job is Wallace’s to lose during the final four games of the regular season. Although the team signed Eric Olsen over the weekend as an insurance policy, this upcoming audition could prove to be enormous for the journeyman Wallace. Always in need of healthy depth along their offensive line, some strong performances by the veteran could help him earn a new contract or at least another shot to compete for a spot on Pittsburgh’s 53-man roster next fall.
The backup center position in Pittsburgh is wide-open, so it will be up to Wallace to take full advantage of what lies ahead of him during the next month.
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