The Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line issues go back several years. Even when the team was making and winning Super Bowls questions about the line’s ability to protect Ben Roethlisberger were still in vogue.
With the drafting of Mike Adams and David DeCastro and the resigning of Max Starks, GM Kevin Butler and Head Coach Mike Tomlin finally put heavy emphasis on the offensive front.
Here we are now in August with a preseason game under our belts and already concerns about the offensive line are rearing their ugly heads. Both Adams and DeCastro acquitted themselves solidly in the run game, but Adams struggled in pass protection before hurting his knee.
It was declared today at practice that DeCastro will indeed be the starter at right guard which was expected from day one. Adams meanwhile was on the sideline.
Tomlin, like his predecessor Bill Cowher is locked up tighter than Kim Kardashian’s yoga pants when it comes to discussing injuries. Tomlin would only say it was a ‘minor’ injury and the rookie could miss a couple of preseason games but those are valuable minutes.
So is he out two weeks? Three weeks? Is he day-to-day? We won’t know until he actually participates in practice again but the line shuffling had already begun and it was quite evident today in Latrobe as the team returned to practice.
Marcus Gilbert moved from right tackle to left. Willie Colon returned to left guard after missing the Philly game with a bum ankle. Maurkice Pouncey was flanked on the other side by DeCastro and at left tackle was Ramon Foster.
Max Starks is still on the PUP list so don’t plan on him anytime soon. Gilbert likes LT better which hopefully signals better play from him than what he displayed Thursday night. No one was more excited about the attention paid the rookies than Gilbert because he was not good at RT and went unnoticed by average fans.
He was beaten several times on speed rushes and looked horrible trying to constantly cut guys he should be dominating. Gilbert has to be better and I believe he will.
The move of Foster to RT concerns me greatly. I recognize this is probably just a move to continue Coach Sean Kugler’s penchant for having guys play multiple positions, but I have my doubts. Foster is a mauler. A guy with great, straight-forward power and I just don’t see him having the feet to get things done properly at right tackle, but obviously the Steelers feel he can do the job.
The good news however is that by keeping Willie Colon at left guard rather than move him back to right tackle tells me a couple of things. First, it signals that the rookie Adams is not hurt too badly and will return. Secondly, it could also indicate that Max Starks is closer to being ready than we might have otherwise thought.
The most important thing here to remember is that it is early. Very early and if we are still having these problems and issues when we are at mid-season then we can start hitting panic buttons, but not just yet Steelers’ fans. I think Coach Kugler is the man to get it done but he will have a short leash from me simply because now he has more formidable talent.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will the offensive line. I would however like to see the columns going up a little faster.