Fernando Velasco says he's 'back to running full speed' after Achilles injury

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The former Steelers and Titans center says is back to full speed and is looking for a chance to start.

Former Steelers center Fernando Velasco was gone almost as quickly as he arrived.

He donned a hero's cape and blew into Pittsburgh to fill in for injured Pro Bowler Maurkice Pouncey before the Steelers took on division rival Cincinnati in Week 2. Pouncey tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee after right guard David DeCastro took him out on a missed cut block.

Velasco was to save the day.

He was the latest in a long line of injury replacement offensive lineman for the Steelers. While it hasn't necessarily been common the team replace a starter with a player who wasn't on the roster in Week 1, nothing by way of injury should be surprising to those who follow the Steelers.

With Pouncey's injury, though, went the team's efforts to run outside zone, something they allegedly intended to do last season. The injury of rookie running back Le'Veon Bell didn't help, either.

Velasco worked throughout the season, and showed improvement the more snaps he got.

Then, it snapped. Literally.

Velasco's right Achilles ruptured during a Week 13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, bringing in veteran interior offensive lineman Cody Wallace to finish off that game, and start the remainder of the season. Wallace signed a three-year deal with the team this offseason while Velasco continued to rehabilitate while looking for an opportunity somewhere.

He spoke to WRDW-TV in Augusta, Ga., over the weekend, telling the station he's "running full speed," and running his own offensive line drills. He expects to sign at some point before the start of training camp, although he does not have a preference about which franchise.

He does expect to have a chance to start, which would exclude the Steelers as an option. Whether that's what he meant with that statement remains to be seen, but with a healthy Pouncey and a position-flexible Wallace, Velasco wouldn't appear to be a primary target for the team to sign as soon as the $8 million accounted for LaMarr Woodley comes off their books for the 2014 season.

Then again, with the injuries the Steelers offensive line has had, it would appear wise for the team to take note of where he is from a rehab standpoint and keep his number nearby. Worst case scenario, he has to don the cape again and re-join the injured Steelers offensive line.

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