Tomlin Says Initial Plan Is To Start Beachum At Center Against The Bengals

With starting center Maurkice Pouncey now out for the season with a knee injury, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday during his press conference that the plan right now is to start second-year offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum at center Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“As we prepare right now, Beachum is going to be our starting center and we’re in the process of learning what Fernando [Velasco] is capable of in terms of details and learning of assignments,” said Tomlin. “Not only him, but Cody Wallace as well.”

The Steelers signed Fernando Velasco on Monday to a one-year deal and he figures to become the starter as soon as he is up to speed with the offense. Beachum, who replaced Pouncey at center after he went down injured early in the game Sunday, struggled at the position on his way to allowing one quarterback and two hurries in pass protection.

Tomlin, in an interview Tuesday on SiriusXM Radio, further explained the situation at center.

“Obviously, he’s [Velasco] got some learning to do,” said Tomlin. “In the meanwhile, we’re going to work with Kelvin Beachum like we did in the stadium on Sunday and excited about the opportunity to work with him exclusively at the position this week.”

The Steelers better hope that Beachum improves quickly as he will face two good Bengals defensive linemen Monday night in Domata Peko and Geno Atkins. Velasco, however, just played against the Bengals several weeks ago in the preseason as a member of the Tennessee Titans and his performance was certainly above the line in that game.

The Steelers have an extra day to prepare for the Bengals with the game being Monday night and Tomlin said it will help them prepare their new center should they wind up needing him.

“The extra day is beneficial to us,” said Tomlin. “It will give us an extra day to bring Fernando up to speed in terms of what we’re doing offensively.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.alberico.73 Andrew Alberico

    Velasco played several weeks ago against Cincinnati, but won’t be ready to play against them next Monday? WTH? Is the Steeler offense so complicated that you have to be a rocket scientist to play OL? Against the TT, they had no offense.

  • Kevin SFIC

    I’d be surprised if there’s a Center in the league who is capable enough to learn the playbook and blocking schemes in just one week.

  • Dan

    I think the signing of Velasco and the plan to start Beachum does speak well for the Coaches’ confidence in Wallace. I’d have to think he is heading for the chopping block soon.

  • schlong

    How about we play the best talent and not worry about learning curves. Pissed me off that Felix had zero touches when our running game was in desperate need of a spark.

  • Eric

    The sadest part of a potential Wallace cut is the fact that Whimper is still on the team.

  • Dan

    I didn’t see anything out of Whimper in preseason to indicate he deserved a roster slot, but not many back up O-linemen did. Maybe he was great in practice or maybe we’re shooting for a great draft slot next year.
    ….a rather unfortunate last name for a tough-guy sport.

  • Mike Carroll

    Hopefully Tomlin is being coy here. Velasco is an experienced center and just played Cincy in the preseason. I think we need Beachum much more as a blocking tight end right now because the offense was actually able to function pretty well with him in that role in the Chiefs game.

  • Stillers FAN

    they can learn that! They r pro’s. especially when u got a veteran center who was a starter, A’s didn’t the titans run outside zone? it’s doable, with Dwyer back as well it helps our line cuz he’s a tougher runner. missing Will Johnson didn’t help either! but for Sunday in beachum we trust!

  • Kenneth Wilt

    Let’s not forget that the center has to call all of the blocking assignments as well, so he basically has to know the offense otherwise you have to dumb it down to a select group of plays….OR Ben might get killed. That being said, this is the plan as of today….that doesn’t mean they won’t see progress from FV over the next few days to know he is ready to start.

  • Pete

    The struggles with Beachum are to be expected since he doesn’t have the snaps. But the guy has played excellent football for a young guy with limited snaps and talk about versatile. Let him grow along with the rest of the O line. Of course there are going to be growing pains but Beachum is just a smart, good football player.

  • Pete

    Dywer is the best running back on the team right now (assuming Bell will be the best when he’s healthy). Dwyer should start with Redman behind. Felix can spell both.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Apparently the implementation of one Rosetta Stone applies to each and every position. As he (Velasco) was not with the team during training camp to be issued one along with a playbook, he’ll need to “earn” it by first gaining Tomlin’s trust.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    I’m sure he’d rather have Whimper on his back than Gay.

    disclaimer -not that there’s anything wrong with that

  • Marcus

    The signing of Velasco really nullifies the Pouncy injury. I wish I could say the same about the Larry Foote injury..

  • steeler4life

    There comes a time when one must say–Stop!!!!!–WE NEED TO CUT WHIMPER-MOVE VELESCO TO CENTER–WHEN POUNCY GETS BACK NXT YR MOVE HIM TO GUARD, BUT FOR NOW, WE NEED ABLE BODIES TO GET THIS THING GOING. OF ALL OUR STARTING LINEMEN RAMON FOSTER IS THE WEAKEST LINK. BEECHAM CAN PLAY CENTER HE CAN PLAY GUARD, SO GET VELESCO AT CENTER BEECHAM AT GUARD, CUT WHIMPER, FREE UP SOME FUNDS, AND LETS GET THIS THING GOING.

  • Ghost_rider60

    Sit Velasco because he doesn’t understand the offense? Haley doesn’t understand the offense! Oh, and lets start Redman because he understands the offense too! Nothing hard to understand, pick Ben off the ground 3 times and punt, how hard is that? Then we can hear how unacceptable it is at the next press conference. Amazing how many are buying this BS.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Agreed…how’s this for dumbing it down…have the protection block from inside out, don’t let anyone in Ben’s face he shouldn’t have to be taking a 7 step drop (not in this dink-and-dunk offense) so the edge rushers can be negated. Therefore the only real pressure would be up the middle. This next game is where Haley needs to show he earns his paycheck by having a solid game plan and adapting to the strength of personnel on the field.

  • CW

    The statement makes sense. You have an initial plan to start the guy who knows the offense best on Monday or Tuesday of this week, but that allows room for either of the two new C/G guys to get up to speed by next Monday and take the position.

  • Dan

    Excellent point. There are some names where you have to grow up tough.

  • Putter

    Whimper made the starting-53 roster. He’ll be paid for the year. So, cutting him and signing someone else costs the team cap space.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    OMG, just start Velasco already. You’re gonna tell me that Beachum knows how to play center better then him? Just have Roethlisberger make the protection calls.

  • Ghost_rider60

    Let Ben make all the calls including play calling

  • TsarPepe

    Ben, not Velasco will be calling the protections on Monday.

  • Fr33th1nk3r

    I’d prefer if we could keep Beachum as the swing guy or as an extra tight end, like originally envisioned. With him playing center, we have no depth at all. One more guy goes down and the Guy Whimper era starts….he might make us wish for that #72 turnstile (Jonathan Scott) we had at LT for a while a couple years back.

  • Asmitty56

    Velasco was JUST signed. Velasco may know how to play center than Beachum, but Beachum knows the offense better than Velasco. I would like to see either he or Wallace get a hat though.