clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Steelers vs. Browns key matchups: Fernando Velasco vs. Phil Taylor

If the Steelers are to have any success on the ground against the Cleveland Browns, Fernando Velasco will have to win his 1-on-1 against Browns NT Phil Taylor - which isn't an easy battle to win.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

With the fan base enamored by the Steelers' free agent acquisition after the loss of Maurkice Pouncey, talk is starting to surround the idea of signing Fernando Velasco back for the 2014 season, and move Pouncey to left guard.

That's all a ways off, but those kinds of ideas will have to be explored simply for the sake of due diligence.

Two of the games the Steelers' front office will pay close attention to will be Steelers at Browns, and Browns at Steelers.

How can Velasco hold up against the monster nose tackles of the AFC North? He held his own against the interior of the Bengals and the Ravens - Domata Peko and Haloti Ngata, respectively - and while not quite performing at the level where the team can feel even kind of comfortable in saying he's their center from this day forward, Velasco has done a reasonable enough job this season.

Cleveland's nose tackle, Phil Taylor, is a different kind of animal. Certainly not a comparable athlete to Ngata in his prime, he is a bit quicker than Peko, and he's anchoring a very solid Browns run defense.

The Steelers running back has been more myth than reality this season. Sometimes it's there, other times it's a wonder why they even bothered using it. Cleveland will be one of the more difficult challenges the Steelers will see in terms of their run game, and Velasco's ability to stay with Taylor up front will be a pivotal reason the Steelers either have success or fail on the ground.

More from Behind the Steel Curtain: