The Steelers set the precedent in 2011 with Max Starks, and now they follow it with Fernando Velasco per Gerry Dulac’s tweet:
New C Fernando Velasco will start in Cincy. Isaac Redman: “I’ve never seen anyone come in and look as comfortable in the offense so quick."The Steelers waived Max Starks in July of 2011 following the NFL lockout after his weight had reportedly ballooned up to near 400 lbs. After Willie Colon tore his triceps during the Debacle in Baltimore the Steelers turned away offers from Flozell Adams and instead opted to start then rookie Marcus Gilbert.
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) September 13, 2013
- In 2011, the team desperately wanted to turn a new page on its offensive line.
The Steelers of course reached out to Velasco within 24 hours of Maurkice Pouncey’s ACL/MCL tear suffered vs. the Titans. Pro Football Focus rated Velasco as the 11th best center in 2012, but The Turk nonetheless darkened his door on cut down day.
Velasco’s experience with zone blocking attracted the Steelers, and Behind the Steel Curtain’s Steel34D film review confirmed Velaco’s ability in a zone blocking scheme, (a review which includes some success at Casey Hampton’s expense.)
Word that Velasco will start frees Kelvin Beachum to return to his role as primary backup across the offensive line and of course the new hat he wears, blocking tight end.