Little did Cody Wallace know when he was working with the first-team offensive line during the start of training camp that just a few weeks later he would be back in the same position.
Wallace took the snaps at center when camp opened while Maurkice Pouncey was on the PUP list with a foot injury. That time is coming in handy now, as Pouncey is out for an undetermined amount of time after having surgery on the ankle he injured against the Packers.
"It definitely was a big help getting those snaps," said Wallace. "I got a lot of time in there with the first group, working with the guards, working with Ben (Roethlisberger). We have been together for a long time now. I have gotten a lot of reps with the first group. It's been good and hopefully there is a good comfort level there."
One of the biggest advantages to that time was working on communication with his fellow linemen, something that is invaluable now but also something Wallace worked on perfecting no matter which unit he worked with as the center is the one responsible for making the calls for the line.
"That is the big thing at center, making sure everyone knows the calls, that we are all on the same page so we can get the blocking assignments right," said Wallace. "Everything should stay the same, all of the calls, making sure everybody hears everything and we are on the same page. Whether you are with the first group, second group or third group that is something you always had to call out. That is something I tried to pride myself on, not having mental errors there. You are going to get beat from time to time because those guys on the other side are athletes too. Mentally I definitely want to be on top of everything."
The Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the game against the Buffalo Bills.
This isn't the first time Wallace has had to step in when injuries hit. In 2013 he filled in when Fernando Velasco, who at that point was starting for the injured Pouncey, went down. But this time, it's a little different.
"This is the first time in a while I have had a chance like this to step in and play for more than a game or two," said Wallace. "I am just hoping I can play at a level high enough that there is no drop off and we can keep this thing rolling and get him back healthy. I'll keep doing what I have been doing. I will just play to the best of my abilities and hope that it's good enough for us to win.
"I am sure people are going to compare my play to what he does. Obviously there is pressure with that. I am going to just go out and do the best I can and we will go from there. I try to be as physical as I can and finish everything. Hopefully other guys get excited about that and we can all play physical together."