Steelers plug hole at center

September, 10, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- Here are your morning links as the Steelers sort through the fallout of a 16-9 loss to the Titans.

The Steelers revealed what Plan B is at center when they signed center Fernando Velasco to take over for Pro Bowler Maurkice Pouncey. At first glance, the Steelers seem fortunate that a player who started every game last season with most of those coming at center was available. It appears that Velasco didn’t fall out of favor with the Titans as much as he lost out in a numbers crunch. The Steelers stayed in-house to fill the void left by inside linebacker Larry Foote’s season-ending knee injury. Kion Wilson looks like he will get the first crack at replacing Foote as the Steelers did not sign a linebacker to take Foote’s spot on the roster.

Man in the middle: Foote was a busy man before getting knocked out of the season opener. The Titans ran at him early and often, according to a film review of the Steelers’ 16-9 loss. His replacement figures to get targeted a lot too in the running game given how inexperienced the Steelers’ reserves are at inside linebacker. The review also breaks down how quarterback Ben Roethlisberger fared against the blitz and highlights why the Steelers desperately need tight end Heath Miller to return. David Paulson, whom offensive coordinator Todd Haley praised last week, did not have one pass thrown his way on Sunday. The second-year man is the Steelers’ best receiver among the healthy tight ends but the drop-off from Miller is steep.

Blame game: Here are some quick-hit observations from the loss to the Titans in which blame isn’t just placed on the offense. The defense played well enough for the Steelers to win but where were the turnovers and sacks? Titans quarterback Jake Locker did not have a big game statistically but he made some clutch third-down throws in part because the Steelers did not get to him in time.

Staying the course: Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons says the players have to hold themselves accountable following the season-opening loss. But Timmons also expressed confidence that the Steelers will be OK if they stick together. Teams often make the most improvement from the first game to the second one. That better be the case with the Steelers or it could be a long night for them next Monday in Cincinnati.

Scott Brown

ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter



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