I don’t need to tell you what the term “deja’ vu” means do I? One guy for sure that doesn’t need a lesson is Pittsburgh Steelers’ back-up center Cody Wallace.
Two years ago, Wallace found himself thrust into the starting center position after injuries to Maurkice Pouncey and then Fernando Velasco. Wallace again was called on early in the Steelers’ preseason win over Green Bay as Pouncey went down for the third time in his career with a lower leg injury.
I’ve learned that Pouncey will be out at least eight weeks following surgery but there’s also a chance he could miss the entire season.
For Wallace, he immediately becomes the man in the middle and that may not be such a bad thing for Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. You’ll recall that the Steelers went out and grabbed Velasco the same day that Pouncey went down in 2013.
Velasco would eventually play solidly before blowing out his Achilles’ in the Thanksgiving night loss in Baltimore. That’s where Wallace stepped in and in my opinion, played well. If you recall, the Steelers finished near the bottom of the league in rushing and also gave up way too many sacks early in the season.
With Wallace’s help though, the offensive line came together. Roethlisberger was sacked just seven times over the final seven games of that season. That was a far cry from how often #7 had been going down earlier in the season. Wallace had a significant hand in the improvement.
While Wallace isn’t nearly the athlete Pouncey is, I think he sets up better as a pass protector especially up the middle. As much as I love Ramon Foster, he can struggle in pass protection and with the bigger and more stout Wallace next to him those ‘A’ gaps close up a bit.
I’m not suggesting in any way that Wallace is a better overall center than Pouncey. I just believe he helps anchor the line a little bit more in pass protection. I also think the Steelers would be well served to watch the waiver wire and first round of cuts. The addition of another center would be an excellent idea.
It’s OK to be down with the injury to Pouncey but have a little faith in Cody Wallace. I think he’ll be fine.
photo courtesy steelers.com