Could John Malecki Be The Week Two Starting Center?

By Matthew Marczi

If Maurkice Pouncey is able to play again this year—which seems highly unlikely at this point—the Pittsburgh Steelers will be forced to carry him on the roster, and will have to cut at another position in order to bring in another offensive lineman.

The likely cut would have been inside linebacker Terence Garvin, but with the news that Larry Foote will also likely miss the rest of the season, that is unlikely to happen. So perhaps safety DaMon Cromartie-Smith would be the one to get his walking papers.

Right now, however, it looks as though Pouncey is probably headed to the season-ending injured reserve after right guard David DeCastro inadvertently threw a cut block directly into the center’s right knee, which resulted in an injury to both the ACL and the MCL of the fourth-year veteran.

Make no mistake, a roster move will be made along the offensive line, and if I am correct, that will mean the return of John Malecki. Malecki, who seemed to have a strong preseason, made the final roster, but was released after the Steelers claimed center Cody Wallace from the San Francisco 49ers. The team liked the fact that Wallace was bigger and a pure center, a position that Malecki only learned after coming into the league.

Wallace, however, was inactive for this game, which left super-sub Kelvin Beachum as the backup center, who had to play the rest of the 56 minutes remaining in the game from the time of Pouncey’s injury. He had a few shaky snaps, which impacted a play or two throughout the course of the game.

If the Steelers are not yet comfortable with Wallace’s knowledge of the offense to even dress him over Guy Whimper, then it would make a great deal of sense to bring back Malecki, and possibly even start him at center, which would allow Beachum to return to the sixth lineman role that he was playing before the injury as an eligible tight end.

The knocks on Malecki were that his arms are too short and he lacks ideal strength—criticisms that also applied to Doug Legursky—but neither of those seemed to hamper his performance much during the preseason, as he was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the team’s second-highest graded player on offense, behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Of course, bringing Malecki back by no means that he will be starting, or even dressing. The Steelers firmly believe that Kelvin Beachum is their sixth-best offensive lineman—at least—and they also believe that he can play every position, so it would make a lot of sense for him to be inserted at center, even though he has very little experience there.

However, it would also make a great deal of sense to start either Wallace or Malecki as well, who are more comfortable at the center position than Beachum, as it would allow Beachum to continue to do the other things that he has been doing, including playing tight end, which is another position decimated by injuries.

I would not be surprised if Malecki is re-signed at some point this week, and it would not even surprise me if he is starting in Week Two. Of course, the team has other options outside of the organization, but they must bring somebody in. Even if they call up a player from the practice squad, they still must add a lineman to have 10 for practice purposes.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Bradys_Dad

    For those that I’ve been at odds with throughout the preseason regarding the “no-signing” of Lego – this is the exact scenario I was worried about. Go ahead with all of the nay-saying but Lego would have been the next man up and we wouldn’t be so frighteningly worried about the OL as we are now. Go on, go ahead, rip my comment. Lego was the next best center on our team bar none. This team was not even close to being prepared to play.

  • Jeff

    Let’s be realistic and say 8-8 will be a miracle. 6-10 is more likely. Way too many injuries to overcome one game in to the season. We had a right to be concerned with the way the preseason was being played out. Look for the Bungles to feast against Willie Gay next Monday. Rooney wanted the young guys to play more and he’s going to see that this year.

  • Jeff

    No ripping your comments here. But why didn’t the coaching staff have this team ready for the opener after training camp & 4 exhibition games? Is it the staff, the players, or is there still a “fractured” locker room?

  • JT

    It’s gotta be him or Wallace. It’s obvious Beachum is desperately needed at TE.

  • JT

    Gay made quite a few plays today, really. Far from the biggest problem.

  • Bradys_Dad

    In my opinion (yes we all have one), this was a team not even close to being prepared and I also think that our player development is falling far behind the rest of the league. Where’s the fire in the belly? Where’s the … we want to show the world that we’re better than 8-8? Coach T needs to reassess not only the play of today but why in the hell they weren’t adequately prepped. This team isn’t slipping or re-building, it’s flat down on its’ ass on the pavement.

  • steeltown

    Why not

  • Mkeller

    Legursky would have been nice. But I don’t think it was because they didn’t like him I think their cap situation is so bad that they had to sit back and wait it out. By then the Bills jumped in. Player development is nonexistent with this team. I don’t see any kind of vision for the future. 22 new players on the opening day roster and with the exception of a few it is all ST help and cheap useless veteran castaways. Next yr they’ll need 2 DEs, 2 CBs, 3RBs, 2WRs, 1ILB, 1TE, 1 C, 2 OTs, 1 OG, S and depth behind most of those. Scary stuff.

  • Mkeller

    Unless there is a miraculous turn around why would you think 6-10 is realistic? Where will the improvement come from to get 6 wins? This has that snowball effect feel to it. Winless in preseason followed by terrible loss to open at home and on to face Cincy at home and angry. All they’ve learned to do so far is lose.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    The problem with the thought Matt was that Wallace was brought in instead of Malecki. I understand bringing Malecki back but why would he start in place of Wallace who is considered an upgrade?

  • rizzo29

    Webster (rip) could start at center and it wouldn,t matter this team has more issues than that, the whole line is a joke.

  • HopalongCassidy

    The Steelers o-line is awful with or without Pouncey who is highly over-rated, You could replace all of these stiffs and be no worse off. They flat out stink and this team is going nowhere until they get some real lineman on this team.

  • NW86

    Not ripping you (I was a Lego fan too and wanted him back). But remember, Lego went on IR for the Bills in the preseason. He could just as easily be taking up space on the IR with Pouncey If the Steelers had kept him.

  • NW86

    Bringing Malecki back to start at center makes no sense, when you just cut him for Wallace, specifically because Wallace is better at center. No, I think Wallace starts at center next week and Malecki is resigned for depth on the interior.

  • Jeff

    Is Alan Faneca in game shape?

  • Pete

    Too many veterans let go too quickly without a gradual transition. The team has lost it’s identity and needs to find it fast.

  • Pete

    It’s not just the line. Did you watch Howling getting mowed over and allowing a sack? He might’ve allowed more than one. How can you have a RB in there that is like bug splat to LBs? I don’t remember all the sacks but I thought Adams played well. Most of the trouble came up the middle over the G or C.

  • T R

    what 6 wins you see. hell the jets won today.. so i am scared of them

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Ramon foster. His passing block is sub-par. DeCastro made ONE big bonehead play but overall he’s our most athletic o-lineman and because ramon got exposed badly today I actually noticed when he get owned, by Morgan/Casey. Heck one play, zach brown gave him a good push.

    I have said it before, Ramon Foster is the weakest link of our O-line. How are we to make the switch to ZBS if Ramon can’t move??

  • Matthew Marczi

    The same reason he was a game day inactive: he’s not up to speed on the offense yet.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Is he a better center? He has less snaps than Malecki and has been in the league twice as long. Even if the Steelers do think he is or could be better, he needs to know the offense first. He was inactive for the game, which would be an indication that he is not up to speed yet. However, odds are that Beachum starts.

  • Bradys_Dad

    True, but Legs had his knee blown out during the last pre-season game. No telling what would have happened had he remained black and gold.


    In live game I thought the same thing…I watched the DVR of it again and imo the OL played okay especially in the 1st half…they did not hold up in the 2nd half. Beachum held his own @ C I thought for the most part. I do agree with you that Pouncey is over rated. He’s a loss, but I don’t expect a big drop off with Wallace from SF.

    The 2 sacks in the 1st half were on Ben…you don’t have time to pump and reload that often and Ben does it nearly every play.

    I thought the OL would struggle early and they did yesterday, but turnovers ultimately is why they lost the game.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    That was my thought but honestly if the Steelers do that it doesn’t look good IMO.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Ed Bouchette Tweeted today that the Steelers would not be re-signing John Malecki, who is supposed to be working out for the Chiefs today. The Steelers still need to bring in another lineman, though.