Visit NFL from the sidelines on the new Observer-Reporter site: http://www.observer-reporter.com/section/BLOGS08

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bell OK but Steelers lose Velasco

Much of the focus following the Steelers' 22-20 loss Thursday night at Baltimore was on the health of running back Le'Veon Bell, who took a vicious hit at the goal line that left him with a concussion.

But the real injury was to center Fernando Velasco.

Bell is going to be OK, though he must now pass concussion protocol.

But Velasco was placed on injured reserve Saturday with an Achilles' tendon injury.

That's a big blow. Velasco had played well in 11 games in place of Maurkice Pouncey and had been a stabilizing factor.

He hadn't been the team's best lineman - that distinction goes to David DeCastro, but he's been close.

DeCastro (foot), left tackle Kelvin Beachum (knee) and tackle Mike Adams (ankle) were also injured against the Ravens, though none was as serious as Velasco, who was in a walking boot following the game.

With all of that in mind, the Steelers released cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke and signed offensive tackle Rashad Butler and center Eric Olsen.

Butler, who has appeared in 50 career games and made four starts, gives them some depth. Olsen, who has appeared in 17 games and made four starts, gives them another option at center.

Currently, Cody Wallace is the backup, but he's appeared in just 14 career games with no starting experience.

The Steelers could also shift left guard Ramon Foster to center and play Guy Whimper at left guard. They could also move Beachum to center and put Adams at left tackle.

It will be interesting to see which direction they go.

On a side note, Velasco's injury could help the Steelers in the long-term. He was only signed to a one-year deal and will be a free agent at the end of the season.

Since he'll be rehabbing with their doctors, they'll have a better idea of his progress than any other team. And other teams might balk at giving him a new contract without some knowledge of his rehab process.

26 comments:

adamg said...

Dale, do you think the pros will ever mandate knee braces for OLs like colleges do?

Anonymous said...

Beachum to center and giving Adams one more chance at LT makes the most sense. Does Foster have any experience at center? Even at practice? DeCastro at least played center in HS. Maybe Wallace surprises all. But he was 3rd on the depth chart prior to Velasco signing. Tho thats not saying much given most of their start of season eval/position winners turned crap on them.

Anonymous said...

Dale, for next season, any chance they resign Velasco and try Pouncey at LT or guard?

adamg said...

Foster was Pouncey's and Legursky's back up the past few years. He did play there a bit with all the injuries.

george said...

No Idea how bad the ACL injury is to Velasco. But it could be mid-season 2014 before He could play again.

Anonymous Brian said...

For some reason, the Velasco injury is the most depressing incident for me of a depressing season. It's just insane the number of O-line injuries the last few years.

Loved the way the Steelers battled on Thursday night, though - exemplified by Bell scoring a sort-of TD while unconscious and Velasco trying to stay in the game with the season-ender, etc. - even though I'm usually a negative whiner.

I do have a very non-homer view on the Tomlin incident, however. Even in the best light, it's an embarrassment. Would love to see an All-22 on the play.

Anonymous said...

No way foster plays center, not even a consideration from anyone in the organization

Velasco does not have an ACL it's achilles tendon

Just like there is noway in hell they lose a draft pick for Tomlin s gaffe

Just horrible no talent media looking for page hits

Dale Lolley said...

No on the knee braces. And this was an Achilles injury, not a knee. Don't know where that's coming from.

Foster has snapped and was the emergency guy in the past.

Pouncey is not moving from center.

I don't see the Steelers losing a draft pick for the Tomlin thing either. If you look at the teams that have been docked draft picks in the past, it's for organizational stuff, not the actions of one coach.

Even the New Orleans bounty-gate was seen as something the organization let happen.

adamg said...

Know Velasco had an achilles injury, not a knee, but on the play his leg was rolled up on and perhaps a brace could have mitigated the movement that tore the AT. The NFL is all about player safety, right?

Never has so much been made out a coach getting out of the way of a play where he clearly wasn't paying close attention to where he was on the field and clearly not anticipating a total fail by his kick cover team. However, if Goodell and co want to continue to make examples out of the Steelers, then the Rooneys should play hardball by refusing to play any national games, i,e, Sun, Mon and Th nights, thus costing the league ratings and $s.

Anonymous said...

I have some vague memory of Baye's Theorem. If evidence is fifty-fifty, it's likely the event that's much more common.
Guys lose focus all the time, but cheat very infrequently.I'd have to see where he was at the beginning of the play.
Doesn't matter anyway. The highlight looks bad and the NFL bases punishments on public opinion. This could cost a bundle.

-Zac in Tempe

marc said...

dale,
i was back in town visiting family this weekend for the holiday and came away with the feeling that most people are pretty disgusted with tomlin's sideline antics. "not the steeler way", "classless", "bush league" were tossed around quite a bit. any insight as to how the rooneys feel about it? thanks.

Patrick said...

the thing that bothers me the most about Tomlin's sideline stupidity is his goofy smile afterwards. You just made a huge gaff (I assume it wasn't intentional). Instead of walking around like a kid who just got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, just give the ol "my bad" pat on the chest and huddle up with someone on your sideline, to look like you're actually "coaching"

According to PFT, the league one day before, sent a video telling coaches to get off the white boundary.

It just shows some of his cluelessness which has has been more than evident throughout his time here.



kyle said...

Tomlin stood in the white area...like every single coach in the NFL does every single week. The only possible way it was intentional was if he happened to be standing in the right place, saw Jones coming, decided immediately to pretend like he didn't see him and to jump out of the way at the last second. Like others have said, that doesn't seem very likely. Watching the video does not remind me much at all of Cowher preparing to punch the Jaguars player.

I cannot imagine the possibility of the team being docked a draft choice. The Jets were intentionally trying to interfere with gunners and ended up injuring a guy and there was no draft choice punishment. I know Goodell is inconsistent but even he can't be that bad an adjudicator.

As to Tomlin's reaction, he was smiling because the crew at M&T Stadium played the clip of him non-stop for the entirety of the commercial break and the crowd was all whipped up and booing. I don't care about that reaction. I don't even care that he admitted he made a mistake in standing so close to the field.

Why is this even a discussion? If he moves out of the way two seconds earlier nobody would have even noticed.

marc said...

sorry kyle, I just don't agree with you. rewatching the video you can see tomlin isn't even looking up at the screen but rather over his right shoulder. and tell me, since every other nfl coach stands in the white, how many times has it interfered with a play? and, of course, tomlin was the only person on the steeler's sideline who couldn't see the screen so he had to move over and stand right on the edge of the field of play. imo, it was intentional and as an owner I would have already suspended my employee for it by now.

would the official game tapes show the whole field? I would love to see where tomlin was standing before and after the ball was kicked. suisham's kick sailed into the corner and I wonder if that is when tomlin strolled over "to get a better look" at the screen.

adamg said...

Are you kidding me? Kyle is right ALL the coaches stand right on the edge of the field. Further, many players now watch the big scoreboards to see what's happening as the play is developing. And who cares where Tomlin stood when? The fact is, he did not interfere with or make a difference in the play since C Allen was clearly either going to make the tackle or push the returner out of bounds.

Were you also offended when Cowher ran out on the field and stuffed a picture in the pocket of a ref? Hilarious, but bush league.

The fact is, the only people worked up about the play are people like Patrick who don't like Tomlin and the media who need to create controversy where none exists to boost ratings and thus ad $s.

marc said...

every coach the nfl has ever had might stand on the white, it doesn't really matter because none of them ever intentionally interfered with the play - unless of course you can recall one. and yes, the runner changed direction because tomlin's right foot was in the field of play - that is interfering with the play - whether or not allen was going to catch him.

i thought cowher looked like a whining little b!tch when he stuffed that picture in the ref's pocket. i agreed with him, but thought he handled it like a little girl and completely unbecoming of a professional coach.

imagine brown returning a kick and all of a sudden cutting inside because harbaugh did the same thing as tomlin. steeler nation would be boiling over with anger at such a garbage move, and you know that's true.

i'm not a tomlin hater, have often said i believe he is an above average coach, but that was crap.

Anonymous said...

There's no defending Tomlin on this one. He deserves a hefty fine. Terrible behavior for a coach.

Dale Lolley said...

I really don't care about the whole Tomlin thing. League will deal with it. I don't pretend to know whether it was intentional or not, unlike so many others.

Bottom line is that nothing happened. No different than Tomlin taking a mock swing on a blocked kick being returned against the Jaguars one year.

He'll be fined a large sum.

As for the smile, it was a smile of embarrassment in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I watched the KDKA video from the endzone.
Tomlin has his back to the play and is clearly watching the scoreboard. It appears he sees the play coming toward him. He takes a step onto the field, then seems to realize he went the wrong direction and pirouettes out of the way. It's the same mistake one might make if trying to back up a car while looking in the rearview mirror, you turn the wheel the opposite direction of what your eyes tell you.

Truly making a mountain out of a molehill.

marc said...

i watched the same video and got what I was hoping for, a video showing where he was when the kickoff started and where he ended up. when jones starts to break the return outside the first thing you can see tomlin doing is taking a big step with his right foot right up to the edge of the field (his right foot is actually in play) with his head up watching the screen. then, as jones gets closer, you see tomlin bring his head down looking over his shoulder. once jones is upon him, tomlin jab steps and jumps out of the way.

so tell me, why, in the middle of the return, does the coach take a large sideways step right up to the edge of the field? surely it wasn't to get a better view of the screen.

and you actually think he went the wrong way after he had already brought his head down and was looking over his shoulder onto the field of play?

amazing how people can watch the same thing and have such different interpretations. that's not a criticism on anyone here, just an observation on my part.

kyle said...

That's the thing, marc. We're making assumptions on why he did something after the fact. If he had stepped back when Jones was 20 yards away then stepping toward the field wouldn't seem suspicious. I can make an assumption that he stepped toward the field while watching the screen because he saw Jones breaking free, just like I stood up from my seat when I saw it. Who knows? We're interpreting 5 seconds of video and trying to determine a man's motivations. A fool's errand.

The reasons I lean toward unintentional are these: absolutely no history of anything like this (and you can be sure people are scouring old game tape and if there was something worth mentioning it would be online by now), every coach stands on the white and at least once a week you see coaches with their feet on the field during play, and most of all I assume, unlike Flacco, Tomlin knows if he makes contact with Jones it's probably an automatic touchdown. So if he jumps back too early it does nothing, if he jumps back too late it's a penalty, so he decided in about two seconds time that he was going to jump out of the way at just the right moment while facing the opposite direction and hope it rerouted Jones. Those things just make it unlikely to me. Oh well, we'll never know for sure. I don't really care.

Oh, and for stepping right when you're moving left, take boxing lessons. Didn't anyone else see Million Dollar Baby? When you want to move left you step with your right foot and vice versa.

Patrick said...

"Why is this even a discussion? If he moves out of the way two seconds earlier nobody would have even noticed"

But he didn't and he blocked a straight line for Jacoby Jones.

I don't think Jones scores regardless but you act like coaches do this all the time and its the first time in my memory.

kyle said...

Coaches stand in the white in every game. Coaches put their feet (intentionally or not) on the field during plays almost every game. Bill Cowher (with a foot on the field) took a step toward the Jacksonville player as though he was going to deck him. The Jets strength coach intentionally bumped a gunner with his knee.

So yeah, it's not the first to my memory.

Patrick said...

neither one of those was a coach standing in the way of a returner. Cowher's response was obviously frustration, not aimlesslessness, and had zero impact on the game.

Not saying it was better, but it was different.

The Jets thing was on a gunner.

What you said was if he moves out of the way 2 seconds earlier, who cares? And I'm telling you thats not what happened, so your statement, why is this a discussion? is stupid, because it happened and its a big deal.

kyle said...

Thanks for saying my statement is stupid. You're a real peach.

I said "If he moves out of the way two seconds earlier nobody would have even noticed." because people are saying "why would he take that step toward the field?" and I'm saying there are a million reasons for that. It only looks suspicious in retrospect. If you look at footage of Jim Harbaugh with his foot on field during a play you wouldn't ask "why was his foot there?" because it didn't end up affecting anything. So, Tomlin having his foot next to the line is not out of the ordinary and thus is not proof of anything.

Patrick said...

kyle, you complete me