Injury Replacement Gets Injured; Steelers Place Fernando Velasco on IR

Lightning, Steelers Nation now knows, does strike twice. Or three times. Or four times. Just as center Fernando Velasco who tore his Achilles tendon in the Steelers 22-20 loss to Baltimore.

As documented by ESPN analyst John Clayton, injuries to NFL offensive lineman are way up. And at the same time, offensive line depth has gotten thin as a result of the CBA.

For as harsh as those trends are, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been leading the way, and they were well ahead of the curve. The Steelers played musical chairs on offensive line in 2010, 2011, and 2012. The hope was 2013 would be different.

  • The Steelers front office went as far as to double down on faith that offensive line injuries would not strike twice.

So it was that the Pittsburgh Steelers went into the 2013 season with 6 NFL caliber offensive lineman. So thin was their depth that Kelvin Beachum, was their back up at center. 7 plays into the season, Maurkice Pouncey tore his ACL as David DeCastro was attempting a chop block, and the march to 0-4 was on.

The early word on Velasco was that he had injured an ankle. This was good news, as his injury looked far worse on the field, and indeed, Velasco’s reaction suggested that he knew he suffered something serious.

  • Steelers Nation should have instinctively known that this wouldn’t have been so simple.

And in fact it was not. Velasco was put in injured reserve ending his season. Velasco, the injury replacement has now himself been lost for the year.

The Steelers will likely start Cody Wallace at center vs. the Dolphins. However, management is not hedging their bets. The Steelers signed center Eric Olsen and tackle Rashad Butler. To make way for the move, the Steelers waived cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke.

  • Olsen’s signing is easy to understand. But what about Butlers?

Well, both Kelvin Beachum and Mike Adams also suffered injuries vs. the Ravens. Musical chairs on offensive line it seems will remain a familiar tune for the balance of 2013.

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