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Steelers notebook: Velasco to start at center

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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers center Fernando Velasco during practice on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, on the South Side. Velasco will start for the Steelers Monday in his first game with the team.

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Newly acquired center Fernando Velasco picked up the offense enough throughout the week to get the start for the injured Maurkice Pouncey against Cincinnati on Monday.

However, Velasco will get help making the calls (identifying the middle linebacker) at the line of scrimmage from guards Ramon Foster and David DeCastro.

“We are on top of that,” Foster said. “I know it a little bit better than Fernando, and David is re-assuring it. If Ben (Roethlisberger) needs to, he can righty or lefty us to where we are going.”

Velasco's taking over the center spot allows Kelvin Beachum to move back to tight end — and a de facto sixth lineman.

The Steelers used Beachum in that role last week until Pouncey's injury forced Beachum to play center. The Steelers managed only 32 yards rushing.

“My goal right now is just to go out there and learn the playbook and stay on top of things and be ready if my number is called,” Velasco said.

Allen ruled out

The Steelers ruled out cornerback Cortez Allen (ankle) for Monday's game.

Allen injured his ankle during last week's opener against Tennessee and did not practice this week. He will be replaced by veteran William Gay at corner and rookie Shamarko Thomas when the Steelers go to their nickel package.

The Steelers also ruled out tight end Heath Miller and running back Le'Veon Bell and listed cornerback Curtis Brown (illness) as doubtful.

Jarvis is ready

Rookie first-round pick Jarvis Jones played only 30 snaps in his professional debut. That number figures to increase significantly against the Bengals.

Jones will start at right outside linebacker and get most of the snaps instead of veteran Jason Worilds.

“I am ready for it,” Jones said. “It's all mental. You have to go with the flow. These guys plays 60 snaps out there, so they have to trust me to do it.”

Kirby not happy

Running backs coach Kirby Wilson is a firm believer in two things: ball security and blocking.

His unit failed at both during last week's opener against Tennessee. Isaac Redman fumbled twice, and 3 12 of the Steelers five sacks were because of missed blocks by running backs.

“You practice ball security the most and blocking the second-most,” Wilson said. “We failed in both of those areas, and it was very disappointing.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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