2020 South Side Questions: Who Would Be Backup Center If Hassenauer Were Unavailable?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.

Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.

As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion

Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: What would be the Steelers’ approach at center if J.C. Hassenauer (and Stefen Wisniewski) were unavailable?

Like most teams, the Steelers prefer to have three linemen on their 53-man roster at any given time who are at least capable of snapping the ball. Usually, the third ‘center’ is an emergency-type player, like Chris Hubbard and Kelvin Beachum.

This year, J.C. Hassenauer, an actual center, was kept as the ninth lineman, and the third center behind Stefen Wisniewski, who is currently on injured reserve with a pectoral injury. Hassenauer did not practice on Thursday, leaving me to ponder the implications.

Technically speaking, Matt Feiler has worked at center in the offseason before, even done it a bit in the preseason. Kevin Dotson said that he worked at his snapping in the offseason. In the event that Hassenauer were unavailable while Wisniewski was still on reserve, and something happened to Maurkice Pouncey…who would snap the ball?

I would assume it would end up being one of either Feiler or Dotson, even though they have never snapped in an NFL or college game before, because there really isn’t anybody else, and if this were an in-game situation, they wouldn’t have any other options anyway.

One can only hope of course that it never has to come down to this. We’ve seen what a backup long snapper who isn’t actually a long snapper can look like. We’ve seen Hubbard snap a ball into his butt in the preseason, leading to Bruce Gradkowski injuring his thumb and being lost for the season (this is why they had to sign Mike Vick in 2015, by the way).

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