PITTSBURGH -- Nobody in the Pittsburgh Steelers' locker room is more well-traveled than Cody Wallace, and the circuitous path he took to Pittsburgh explains why the veteran center is still renting furniture even though he signed a three-year, $3.48 million contract in March.
“We’re not putting roots down,” Wallace said with a laugh. “We make it home but we’re not going out and buying a bunch of stuff.”
Or much of anything if the Wallace family furniture is any indication.
But Wallace, who is with his sixth NFL team since breaking into the league in 2008, has found a measure of security since joining the Steelers last September.
And they could ask him again to uphold the team's "next man up" mantra.
Left guard Ramon Foster is listed as questionable for the Sunday night game at Carolina and if the sixth-year veteran is unable to play Wallace will likely get the start against the Panthers.
Wallace proved to the Steelers that he could fill in up front near the end of last season albeit at a different position.
Wallace started the last four games at center after Fernando Velasco went down with a torn Achilles tendon, and the offensive line gave up just six sacks while the Steelers averaged 115.3 rushing yards per game in going 3-1 down the stretch.
The Steelers saw enough from Wallace to sign him to the three-year deal.
And those four games provided validation for Wallace’s decision to chase his dream even as it led him all over the country after getting released by the 49ers in 2010.
“It gave me an opportunity to show what I could do for an extended period of time and give them the confidence that they can trust [me] for a game instead of just, 'Oh get us through the half,'" Wallace said of the four starts he made in 2013, which were the first four of his career. “I think the coaches have a good feeling about me as a backup interior guy if they need to plug me in.”
The nine games Wallace dressed for last season equaled the number of NFL games he had suited up for prior to joining the Steelers.
After the 6-foot-4, 300-pounder established himself as the Steelers’ top backup along the interior of the offensive line during training camp and the preseason, he mentioned to his wife, Chely, how they had survived a final cut for the first time since 2009.
That doesn’t mean that the Wallaces, who have two young children, feel like they have it made.
“We love it here and hopefully we can make it home for the next few years, however long they’ll let me stay,” said Wallace, who initially signed with the Steelers a little more than a year ago after getting cut by the Buccaneers. “For me this game’s just so fun and it’s what I worked for my whole life. I’ll play as long as someone will have me.”