With starting center Fernando Velasco now out for the remainder of the season with an Achilles injury suffered late in the Thursday night loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Pittsburgh Steelers now must decide who will fill is shoes moving forward.
While they did sign free agent Eric Olsen on Saturday to fill Beachum’s spot on the 53 man roster, he’s nothing more than emergency help moving forward. That leaves Kelvin Beachum and Cody Wallace as the only two legitimate starting center candidates moving forward.
Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette believes that Beachum will be the choice, assuming the knee injury that he suffered Thursday night doesn’t prevent him from playing against the Miami Dolphins.
Outside of getting limited work at the center position during training camp and the preseason, Beachum has all of 45 regular season snaps at the position with all of those snaps coming after starter Maurkice Pouncey went down with his knee injury in the season opener against the Tennessee Titans. Also, it should be noted that he did not play well in that game.
Another thing to think about, should Beachum be the choice to take over at center, is the fact that Mike Adams would then have to take back over at left tackle, a position that Beachum has shown over the course of the last several weeks is not too big for him. After taking over for Beachum Thursday night, Adams allowed a hit on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger before he left the game with an injured left ankle.
In other words, I think the Steelers would be better served in letting Wallace take over as the new center. More than anything else, at least Roethlisberger’s blind side would be better protected if Beachum stays at left tackle.
Wallace has been with the team long enough now that he certainly should understand the offense. Also, center is his natural position as he started there three years while at Texas A&M. When the Steelers signed him at the start of the season, head coach Mike Tomlin talked fondly of him.
“Really, it’s the chief reason why he’s here,” said Tomlin when asked if Wallace was signed because he is a natural center. “He’s a known commodity from a professional football standpoint in terms of snapping the ball. He’s also guard capable.
“This is a guy who was a three-year starter at Texas A&M at center and has been in the league and on several different teams in that capacity. He’s a sharp guy, he’s got good quickness and we believe he’s going to be a positive asset to our group.”
Sure, the Steelers went out and added Velasco after Pouncey went down, but why wouldn’t they. Velasco was more of a known commodity than Wallace was and cheap to boot. Now that he’s out for the season, it’s time to let Wallace show what kind of commodity he is. What can it hurt? Or should I say, who else can get hurt?