No one can completely replace a player like Pittsburgh Steelers All Pro center Maurkice Pouncey. Nonetheless, that is exactly what the team is forced to do, again, with Cody Wallace stepping in to the starting center position. There has been a tremendous amount of speculation as to what the loss of Pouncey will do to an offense which is predicted to be one of the best in the NFL. Differences between Pouncey in run blocking, pass protection and pre-snap reads have been talked about in regards to whether Wallace will able to fill the gigantic shoes left by the injured Pouncey.
When you talk to Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, he would be the first to tell you not much will change with Wallace in the lineup.
"Not really," Haley said in reference to if things will change without Pouncey. "We might have had a few what we called ‘gadget plays' that involved the center that we might not be able to get to that would've been a down-the-road thing anyway."
Pouncey might be known most for his ability to leave his position in the middle of the line and pull on stretch running plays to get to the next level to seal off linebackers. This type of blocking was exactly what Pouncey was doing in the team's game against the Green Bay Packers when he had is ankle rolled onto by Ha Ha Clinton Dix, the injury leaving the team without Pouncey for at least half of the 2015 regular season.
Pouncey's athleticism was often on full display, but what about Wallace? Will he be able to do some of the things Pouncey did from the center position?
"Not much will change that way," offensive line coach Mike Munchak told Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "We will see as the games develop. There were things that we would put in because he could do something more, but it won't limit us in any way."
Wallace is capable, he proved so in 2013 when he took over after Pouncey and acquired center Fernando Velasco when both were injured during the 8-8 season. However, the one aspect of this scenario the Steelers, and the offensive line, have now which they didn't have in 2013 is time.
"The big thing now is that we have practice time, and that is something that we didn't have last time," guard Ramon Foster said. "We aren't going to change up much at all. We just can't just bag a lot of stuff because Pouncey is down right now."
The time the unit has together will begin this Saturday when the Steelers play the Bill in Buffalo. There will be some bumps in the road, and no one is suggesting, or expecting, Wallace to be able to bring the same athleticism and prowess to the position which Pouncey did, but to think the Steelers offense can't be dynamic without Pouncey might be a little premature as the team enters their 4th preseason game.
"Everybody has their strengths and weakness, and I will go out there and do what I do best," Wallace said.
And if that the "best" is opening up running lanes, being on point with pre-snap reads and keeping Ben Roethlisberger upright, then Cody Wallace will be just fine until Pouncey can return to the team.