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Cody Wallace embraces opportunity to start

PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Steelers center Cody Wallace is with his sixth organization since the 49ers picked him in the fourth round of the 2008 draft. The consummate journeyman has arrived in one sense as he will make his first NFL start Sunday when the Dolphins visit Heinz Field for a 1 p.m. game.

Given the momentous occasion, Wallace would seem like a logical candidate to try to score extra tickets for the game, but it turns he doesn't need any.

“Just my wife and son will be there,” Wallace said with a smile.

The Texas native can add to his personal cheering section exponentially if he can continue the stability at center that the Steelers have enjoyed despite losing Pro Bowler Maurkice Pouncey to a torn ACL on one of the first plays of the season.

Wallace is the next man up with Fernando Velasco joining Pouncey on the Steelers' injured-reserve list, and he has taken his promotion in stride. Wallace's demeanor is one reason why the Steelers shouldn't worry that the 6-4, 300-pounder has been overwhelmed by the specter of making his first NFL start.

“It hasn't been a huge ephipany or anything but definitely get excited about it,” Wallace said. “I've been in the league six years and haven't had a chance to contribute a whole lot during a game so I'm looking forward to it. I've been comfortable with the offense all year.”

The fact that Wallace has been with the Steelers since early September -- they signed him after he didn't survive the Buccaneers' final preseason cuts -- bodes well for him stepping in for Velasco and at least doing a credible job.

“You don't have a new guy coming in,” starting left guard Ramon Foster said. “That's the most important thing. You've got a guy that knows the system and the plays. He's worked his butt off. I respect his work ethic and I'm just ready to see him go.”

So is Wallace, who didn't even dress for the first five games of the season but stayed engaged in the Steelers' weekly preparations -- just in case injuries thrust him into the starting lineup at a time when the Steelers can't afford their offensive line to take a step back.

“You have to make the most out of your opportunites, you might not get another one,” Wallace said. “That's kind of the driving factor.”