The Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line took a major blow Sunday with the loss of All Pro center Maurkice Pouncey. Pouncey sustained a broken left fibula and he will be out an extended period of time, possibility the whole season.
The Steelers will now rely on back up center Cody Wallace. Make no mistake there’s a drop off when you jump from Pouncey to Wallace. Pouncey is a All Pro center and Wallace has been a career backup most of his career.
However, all is not lost.
Cody Wallace 30, was originally drafted by the 49ers in the fourth round (107th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft. He was picked up by the Steelers in September of 2013 after being a final cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in August of that same year.
Wallace has started 4 games at the center position as a Steeler, all at the end of the 2013 season. The Steelers record in those 4 starts was 3-1. They would finish 2013, 8-8.
The Steelers offense averaged 29 points a game during that 4 game span.
|14||December 8||Miami Dolphins||L 34–28|
|15||December 15||Cincinnati Bengals||W 30–20|
|16||December 22||at Green Bay Packers||W 38–31|
|17||December 29||Cleveland Browns||W 20–7|
QB Ben Roethlisberger threw 7 touchdowns and was sacked only 6 times during that 4 game span. The offensive line only gave up one sack a game during the final three games.
RB Le’Veon Bell ran 85 times for 332 yards and 3 touchdowns, averaging 3.9 yards a carry during that 4 game span.
Bell ran 46 times for 214 yards and a 4.6 yard average with 2 touchdowns during the final 2 games of 2013.
Wallace was the center for the Steelers win at Green Bay and part of an offensive line that helped block for Steelers’ rushers to gain a season-high 151 yards.
Wallace spoke on his readiness to step in for Maurkice Pouncey…
Cody Wallace: “It’s been my job to be ready,this is my eighth year now and I’ve always been a backup guy. So that’s kind of something you got to be ready for — left and right [guard] and a center in between. It’s about film study and knowing the guys up front and being on top of the game plan.”
“We have gotten a lot of reps the past couple of years with me at center, whether (it was) me easing Pouncey back into training camp this year,hopefully, they have confidence in me that I can do the job.”
Wallace’s teammates believe he can get the job done while Pouncey is on the mend…
Ramon Foster: “That’s the really good thing…Cody is ready at all times,he’s been in this league for a while and knows how to play, so you can always count on him.”
Head Coach Mike Tomlin was clear about his thoughts on the situation…
Mike Tomlin:“It’s part of the game, and we don’t overanalyze it, it is as much a part of the game as blocking and tackling. We will make the necessary adjustments, and I expect the ball to keep rolling because that’s the business we are in.”
So as you can see,Cody Wallace may not be an All Pro center, but he is a capable starter that the Steelers have not only won with but excelled with at center.
The Steelers are hoping that Maurkice Pouncey makes a speedy recovery but are comfortable with Wallace till he makes his return and you can bet Wallace will be ready.
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