The Pittsburgh Steelers suffered a devastating loss on Thursday night when they were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens by a score of 22-20. In addition to the loss, which dropped the Steelers to 5-7, Pittsburgh’s offensive line was dealt another terrible hand when Fernando Velasco went down with an Achilles injury late in the game.
Velasco, who replaced the injured Maurkice Pouncey at center after Pittsburgh’s opening day loss to Tennessee, did a fine job in the Pro Bowler’s place. The veteran started Pittsburgh’s next 11 games, and many were happy to see such steady play at the center position while Pouncey was sidelined.
With Velasco now sidelined for the rest of the regular season, the Steelers must turn to veteran journeyman Cody Wallace at center. Although the former Texas A&M Aggie has not started a professional game at any position before, his teammates appear to be confident that he can step up for Velasco down the stretch.
According to a recent article by Mike Prisuta of Steelers.com, Ben Roethlisberger had the following to say about the new starter along his offensive line:
On the plane ride home from Baltimore, when I knew Fernando (Velasco) was out, I checked with the other linemen, asked them what they thought about Cody (Wallace), … Every single person said the same thing, that he’s a really smart player, there will be no issue, he’ll be good to go. So when I talked to him I got that same confidence, that he’ll be ready to rock with it.
In addition to Roethlisberger’s positive impression of Wallace, starting left guard Ramon Foster appears to be sold as well as intrigued to see what his teammate can do with his new opportunity:
The’re’s expectation, definitely. He’s worked his butt off whether he’s been doing scout team and everything like that. He knows what’s in front of him. I respect his work-ethic. I’m just ready to see him go on Sunday.
Excitement and confidence aside, the Steelers will need Wallace to step up if they wish to stay in the postseason chase. As I mentioned previously, Velasco did a fine job in Pouncey’s place and the Steeles must receive adequate play from Wallace in the interim.
How well Wallace performs could go a long way in determining whether or not he has a future with the Steelers or another professional team, so I will definitely be rooting hard for him to take advantage of his most significant chance to succeed since he entered the league back in 2009.
Like “NPC” on Facebook: Nice Pick, Cowher