Steelers confident in their latest center

PITTSBURGH -- Mike Tomlin gave the Steelers' Plan C at center a vote of confidence during the part of his weekly news conference not devoted to sideline interference.

Ben Roethlisberger did the same a day later.

And the Steelers quarterback relayed an illuminating story of what happened when he conducted something of a background check on Cody Wallace, who will make his first NFL start Sunday against the visiting Miami Dolphins.

Roethlisberger did some early homework on Wallace on the plane ride home from Baltimore last week, shortly after he learned that starting center Fernando Velasco had been lost for the rest of the season because of a ruptured Achilles tendon.

“I checked with the other linemen, asked them what they think about Cody, does he know [the offense]? And every single person said the same thing: ‘He's a really smart player, there will be no issue, he'll be good to go,'” Roethlisberger said on Wednesday. “When I've talked to him I've had that same confidence in him that he'll be ready to rock with it.”

He better be.

The Steelers don't have time for the 6-foot-4, 300-pound Wallace to get up to speed, given their precarious situation.

They need to win out to extend their season beyond December -- Roethlisberger said he is treating every game now like a playoff contest -- and their ability to run the no-huddle offense effectively will go a long way toward the Steelers running the table.

As banged-up as the Steelers' offensive line is, one thing that doesn't appear to be a concern is how the middle of it will fare with Wallace.

“He's prepared for this week in and week out whether he's been starting or not,” left guard Ramon Foster said. “His time has come right now. He knows everything that's going on. He'll just have to get the game speed down if anything.”

Wallace said he is confident his conditioning level is such that he will be able to handle playing an entire game. The fourth-year veteran is also comfortable working with Roethlisberger, and the biggest thing for those two this week is making sure they get the snap exchange down.

“He walks into our [meeting] room from time to time and bounces some things off of us to make sure it all sounds good to us so we are all on the same page,” Wallace said. “I think I will be fine out there.”

So does Tomlin.

“I have no problem in expecting Cody Wallace to play winning football for us at the center position,” the seventh-year coach said, “because he's going to practice and prepare all week.”