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Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – C Fernando Velasco


By Matthew Marczi

End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.

Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.

Player: Fernando Velasco

Position: Center

Experience: 5 Years

It would be safe to assume that the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t have center Fernando Velasco in their plans when the regular season started, but that changed rapidly when Maurkice Pouncey was lost for the year just eight plays into the first game.

The Steelers were forced to work with what they had at their disposal, moving everyman lineman Kelvin Beachum from tight end to center for the remainder of that season opener, while the actual backup center, Cody Wallace, was inactive.

Wallace, of course, had no prior starting experience and about 15 snaps’ worth of playing time in meaningful games—not to mention he’d only been on the roster for a few days. That’s where Velasco came into the picture.

Having started 19 games in the past, including every game in 2012 for the Tennessee Titans, Velasco was a valuable commodity that the Steelers ‘lucked’ into being available after the first game, if losing your starting center could be contorted into being lucky.

Velasco was able to come in and start immediately, which was a notable concern for the Steelers, as they would have either had to rely on Wallace, a natural center but who had just joined the team and had no starting experience, or Beachum, who had starting experience at tackle but only just learned to play center.

Having Velasco come in and anchor the line was essential to providing solidity for a unit that was shaken by the loss of its leader and signal caller and on the verge of instability. Even though the Steelers went on to lose his first three starts, the line slowly began to gel, and after a few weeks, Velasco himself was emerging as a leader of what is a rather young offensive line.

He and Ramon Foster, the other ‘veteran’ among the offensive linemen, took the reins and helped steer the offensive line in the right direction by season’s end. While his own personal performance might not always have been quite at the level that he was generally given credit for, there’s no doubt that he was essential to the unit being able to continue to grow without Pouncey for virtually the entire year.

With his injury late in the season, the Steelers got a chance to see what Wallace could do as a starter—another ‘lucky’ break, or positive spin on a negative situation. In addition, it increases the likelihood that Velasco would be willing to stick around in a reserve capacity when he most certainly would be looking for a starting position otherwise.

During his short stay in Pittsburgh, Velasco certainly grew on the city and the team, and it seemed that the feeling was mutual based on the interviews that he gave during the season. If he falls in love like Jerricho Cotchery and other veterans have in the past, he may be willing to potentially sacrifice a bigger role for slightly more pay in order to stay in a strong personal and professional environment.

Previous Articles In This Series
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – QB Ben Roethlisberger
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Antonio Brown
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Emmanuel Sanders
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – TE Heath Miller
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – T Marcus Gilbert
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – G David DeCastro
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – G Ramon Foster
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – T Kelvin Beachum
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – RB Le’Veon Bell

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About Matthew Marczi

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

    I am uncertain what happens with this situation, obviously Velasco getting injured should make him easy to retain as one would assume he wont have many suitors offering big money to be the starter.. but then you have Wallace who by all accounts seems very capable of providing depth and starting if need be.. I guess its possible they re-sign both guys for a modest price but do we really need both guys?

  • AndyR34

    Difficult choice…Wallace is a year older and has much less experience. However, he isn’t coming off of a serious injury, while Fernando is. I think that it is telling that they went out and got Fernando and he started right away…even though Wallace had been in the ‘system’ longer…even if only a few days longer. It might come down to which one will work for less.

  • dgh57

    I think the fact that Velasko played for Munchak while with the Titans might sway the decision more in his favor. Meanwhile, Wallace was brought on board because he was considered to be more of a true Center than Molecki was back before the season started. That tells me that Wallace can only play Center but I don’t see it as to much of a problem for Munchak to solve. Then we have to also figure out what to do with Ebernasty! Just seems like we have 3 guys battling for 2 positions here so something has to give here.

  • Jason White

    My ideal O-line to start the season would be
    Beachum/Foster/PounceyDeCastroGilbert which is the most likely at this point then for depth Mike Adams and perhaps a free agent or a late draft pick to fill out the tackle depth. Then at least Velasco or Wallace to be the backup center and interior swing man. I really hope Embernasty finds a spot in there somewhere but since I wouldn’t expect more than 8 lineman on the roster to start the season I could see him being a practice squad candidate. In a perfect world for me Embernate would impress so much that he would unseat Foster for the starting left guard spot and perhaps Foster could be the interior swing man and emergency right tackle. Of course I don’t know if they would keep him as a backup with his contract (Not sure what his cap hit is.) I really like Embernate’s nasty side and I think he would fit great. I think if he stays healthy and impresses he could draw attention of other teams.

  • Jollyrob68

    But Munchak cut him so I don’t think it’s in his favor at all. I want both of them because I don’t trust Pouncey to stay healthy.

  • Steve Torchia

    It may be a good time to move Pouncey off center and let him play where he did a great job at Florida. He may be able to remain healthy and play a full season if was more upright and had the extra split second to square up. Valesco and Wallace at center with Pouncey at guard and you have a real start to a true offensive line!!!

  • dgh57

    Velasko started 13 games last year for the Titans at Center and PFF has him giving up zero sacks and only 9 hurries. I checked the Titans blogs out soon after we signed him and the fans were upset he was released so sounds like he was a fan favorite while there. They signed Rob Turner as a FA and drafted a Center in the 4th rd. of the draft who ended up showing something in their preseason games. Titans and Munchak decided to cut loose his $2.03M contract to save some money and get younger at backup Center at the same time. So it’s not like Munchak didn’t feel like he couldn’t play and as we witnessed this past season. So yes it still remains Munchak may be swayed in selecting Velasko over Wallace because he knows him better!

    As for Pouncey he’s not hurt all the time as he couldn’t help it what DeCastro did. Who knows if it weren’t for what he did Pouncey may of stayed healthy the whole year!

  • joed32

    When Munchak was hired the other Steeler linemen called Velasco to ask his opinion and he said it was a good hire.

  • disqus_wdLdx4W76r

    He’s just as good as Pouncey .. I dont get all the comparisons with Pouncey and Dawson..hell he’s not even a Jeff Hartings..I think Munchacks influence will keep Velasco on the roster

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