Q&A: Fernando Velasco

Steelers' newest offensive lineman talks to Pittsburgh reporters:

Fernando Velasco started 16 games for the Tennessee Titans last season and signed a $2.02 million second-round tender in the off-season. The Titans signed and drafted some new players and that price tag made Velasco expendable, and so he ended up with the Steelers.

Q: Did you play in a man or zone scheme?

FV: In Mike Munchak and Bruce Matthews they had two of the best offensive linemen that played the game and best offensive line coaches in the game, so they did a good job of teaching all the schemes -- zone, man -- so we did a lot of different things depending on a week-to-week basis.

Q: Any opportunities before the Steelers?

FV: I let my agent do all that. Once the situation came up it was a no-brainer. Unforunately the injury happened to (Maurkice) Pouncey, just an opportunity to come in and play. That's my goal. Obviously I've got to learn the book first, just a good opportunity to come and play for a great organization and hopefully get on the field.

Q: Would you make the calls this week if you were to start?

FV: We're just learning the book. We're taking it one day at a time. That's my focus right now, just learning the playbook.

Q: What did you know about this team?

FV: They won six Super Bowls. That's all I needed to know. It's a winning tradition. Every time you see the black and yellow you already know that it's going to be a hard, tough-nosed football team, so I'm happy to be a part of it.

Q: Black and gold.

FV: I said gold, man (laughs).

Q: What was your reaction when you passed those trophies?

FV: It was jaw-dropping. I had never seen one in person. To see it up close in person, it was amazing. Definitely let me know I'm part of something special. Hopefully we can get one here while I'm here.

Q: Were you happy to get the second-round tender last year?

FV: Right. I did. I thought I played well last season. They gave me the tender, signed a couple guys, drafted the one, it's just the NFL. It's a business. You can't feel sorry. I definitely didn't feel sorry for myself. As soon as I got cut I went right to the gym, worked out, worked out all last week, stayed in shape. I'm here now. Thank God for the wonderful opportunity. Just ready to work.

Q: You've played against this team. Has that helped you understand them better?

FV: Not necessarily because I was facing their defense. But I know what kind of style they play on both sides of the ball. They're tough. It's tough, hard-nosed football. That's what I'm happy to be a part of. That's my style. That's my kind of game I like to play. So it's exciting to be an offensive lineman here.

Q: What would you call the style they played last week?

FV: I was in church, so I didn't watch.

Q: You were praying for a job opening, weren't you?

FV: (Laughs) Hey. Hey. No doubt about it. He opened it for me, too, so I'm happy to be here.

Q: How overwhelming is all the data you have to take in from a new team at center?

FV: It's a lot of information but what I'm trying to do right now -- it's a lot of the same stuff we ran at Tennessee but it's different terminology, so I'm trying to say 'OK, here they call whatever. In Tennessee we called it whatever whatever.' I'm trying to assimilate that way and then as the days go by I can mark it out and understand here what I'm doing better. Football's football. The plays are plays everybody runs. Everybody runs the same plays in the league, they jsut call it different. Football is football. Once we get the calls out I can play football, and that's what's most important.

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