Looking at the Steelers O-Line situation, there are a lot of questions ging in to the Monday night showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals. One of these questions has been the starting of Kelvin Beachum at center. Although the Steelers did sign former Titans center Fernando Velasco, it is Beachum who is getting the nod to become the deliverer of the football to Ben Roethlisberger and also to make the line calls in the absence of All Pro center Maurkice Pouncey who is lost for the season following his knee injury to the Titans.
Looking at Beachum, you think he is not built to play center. Growing up as the biggest kid on the block left Beachum to be stereotyped by his childhood coaches resulting in him playing tackle throughout his childhood and college career. Eight plays into the Steelers 16-9 defeat on Sunday changed that. Beachum, who was on the sidelines, was watching the Steelers driving deep into Titans territory when, in an instant, Pouncey was writhing in pain , then carted off the field, his knee mangled, and his future for the season highly in doubt. (Later , it was confirmed Pouncey was done for the season with ACL & MCL injuries to his right knee.)Beachum , while Roethlisberger was kneeling on the field , fired off a couple of snaps to make sure he was ready. He wasn't jittery because of the quickness of what had happened but got himself ready to be the "next man up." "You don't have time to go through the emotions or feel your way through. You've got to go out there and play football," said Beachum For all the chaos that surrounded the Steelers opening weekend, Beachum's ability to handle a position he hasn't played since his Pee Wee days is cause for optimism going into Monday's game against the Bengals.
I'm not saying that Beachum will make anyone forget about Pouncey, but he can be an adequate fill in. Pouncey's loss will definiHe spent portions of Wednesday's practice tely be felt , most notably in the locker room , where the 24 year old commands the respect of players a decade older. Pouncey is the only one of the Steelers captains under 30 as a testament to his leadershipin the huddle and his magnetic presence on the field. Pouncey, embracing his leadership role , had the offensive linemen meet at his house every Thursday to watch film and go over the line calls . During those sessions , Pouncey would hit the clicker and point out what he sees. Beachum has picked up the line calls already and has been an adept student ,learning all five positions and their assignments quickly. With a full week to prepare for the Bengals, Beachum feels confident , thanks to Pouncey's guidance , he'll be able and up to the task to fill in for Pouncey.
Beachum beat the odds to make the 53 man roster. By the end, he was starting at right tackle. His path from survivor to contributor was one he couldn't do without the guidance of Pouncey. Beachum has likened him to a "big brother" even though Beachum is 6 weeks older than Pouncey. "He's been in the league awhile and can really talk to you about things " Beachum said about Pouncey. That includes the cramming for a test he never thought he would have to take and eventually replace his teacher. Beachum has throughout training camp lined up as a tackle guard, tight end and took a few snaps at center . Now he has the opportunity and task to be the center for his team . Beachum spent Wednesday's practice working with Roethlisberger getting down various snap counts and developing a rhythm. "Kelvin knows his stuff," said Roethlisberger. "Beachum is going to do well. We're going to help him as much as possible , " said guard Ramon Foster.
Beachum isn't looking over his shoulder , even with the signing of Velasco. Instead, he is working alongside Velasco, learning from him and gaining some helpful tips. "It's the Steeler's Way. We are a brotherhood here just like the NFL is. He's giving me tips, since he has played the position longer than I have and we're making each other better, " said Beachum. It's this cerebral approach that led the Steelers to take a flier in the 7th round on Beachum and the return on the investment has definitely been a positive one.