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.”