Pittsburgh Steelers: Will O-Line Continue Good Play Without Fernando Velasco?
All season long, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line has been decimated with injuries. It all started on the first offensive drive of the season when Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey went down with a season-ending injury, and the Steelers’ luck on the front line hasn’t gotten any better.
Pittsburgh has gone through multiple combinations of starters along the offensive line all year long which has resulted in a lack of chemistry and low rankings in run offense and sacks allowed. However, over the past two weeks the Steelers have shown some improvement in protecting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and haven’t surrendered a single sack during that span.
Now, unfortunately, it appears that Pittsburgh will lose their newfound cohesiveness along the O-line with a season-ending injury to center Fernando Velasco. In the Steelers’ 22-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving night, Velasco injured his right Achilles and was put on injured reserve this past Saturday.
To make matters worse, fellow offensive linemen Mike Adams and Kelvin Beachum went down with injuries to the ankle and knee respectively.
Returns by Adams and Beachum are likely, but there is a possibility that newly-signed tackle Rashad Butler could step in until one or both of them are healthy. The question mark that looms over Pittsburgh’s offensive line is how the void at center will be filled. More than likely, Cody Wallace will step in as the starting center.
This sudden change on the offensive front just could be the one thing that officially ends the Steelers’ season. Wallace has played very little this season and will now be thrown into the fire in the most crucial time of the team’s campaign. The way Wallace and the rest of the battered offensive line plays for the remainder of the season will dictate just how far Pittsburgh will go.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+