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Thumbs-Up, Thumbs-Down on Pittsburgh Steelers Moves During the Bye Week

The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t play a game last week, but that doesn’t mean nothing happened.

Multiple lineup changes were made during the bye week in an effort to turn the Steelers’ 2013 season around. The Steelers (0-4) seek their first win of the season Sunday when they play the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

Did the Steelers make the right moves? Let’s take a look.

Benching Mike Adams

This was a no-brainer. Ben Roethlisberger was on pace to be sacked 60 times this season with the second-year left tackle protecting his blind side. Of course, Roethlisberger wouldn’t actually be sacked 60 times had Adams remained at left tackle, because he’d be injured at some point and miss playing time.

The Steelers traded a draft pick to the Arizona Cardinals for offensive tackle Levi Brown, who was chosen fifth overall in the 2007 NFL draft. Brown hasn’t played up to the expectations of a No. 5 pick.

Second-year man Kelvin Beachum likely will start at left tackle, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, while Brown learns the Steelers’ system.

Beachum has played tackle, guard, center and even tight end for the Steelers. He also started 52 games at left tackle for SMU. Perhaps the floating backup will find a home on the blind side in the NFL.

After what’s happened in the first four games, it’s worth a try. THUMBS UP

Starting Cameron Heyward

Cameron Heyward, the Steelers’ first-round pick in the 2011 draft, will replace Ziggy Hood as the starter at left defensive end when the Steelers play the Jets.

Hood, the Steelers’ top pick in 2009, has been serviceable, but not spectacular. He’s also been durable, starting 14 games in 2011 and 16 last season.

If the Steelers weren’t 0-4, they’d probably be content keeping Hood as the starter. This move is an attempt to shake things up and put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Steelers are last in the NFL with four sacks.

According to Pro Football Focus via Steel City Insider, Heyward has played 115 snaps this season to Hood’s 187, yet according to the Steelers’ count, Heyward has nine quarterback pressures while Hood has just three.

Heyward also has broken up two passes and has shown the potential to be a disruptive force on defense. THUMBS UP

Starting William Gay

Keenan Lewis was second in the NFL last season with 23 passes defended, yet the Steelers allowed him to sign with the New Orleans Saints as a free agent because they felt Cortez Allen was ready to replace him as the starter.

However, it looks like William Gay will replace Allen as the starting left cornerback, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Allen broke up 10 passes last season, including three in the last two games. He also intercepted two passes and forced three fumbles in the last two games.

After missing two games with an ankle injury this season, Allen came back and had an awful game in the Steelers’ 34-27 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in London. Allen missed three tackles in the game, including one on Greg Jennings’ 70-yard touchdown reception.

If Allen is feeling lingering effects from the injury, that’s one thing. But if he’s fully recovered, he shouldn’t be benched for one bad game. He wasn’t the only Steeler missing tackles in London.

The Steelers haven’t forced any turnovers this season. If they don’t force any on Sunday, they’d be the first team in the history of the NFL to force no turnovers in the first five games, according to Pro Football Reference.

Allen showed late last season that he can be a ballhawk. The Steelers need that on defense. THUMBS DOWN

Banning Billiards

No Steelers article coming out of the bye week would be complete without a little something about Mike Tomlin’s decision to ban pool, ping-pong and shuffleboard in the Steelers locker room.

After the Steelers began the season 0-2, the 10 players remaining from their 2008 championship team held a meeting and decided to ban all players with less than four years of experience from non-football locker room recreation, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

So plenty of players who are part of the problem still could pick up a pool cue if they wanted. These guys treated the younger players like children, and the Steelers lost two more games.

Finally, Tomlin banned locker room games for all players.

Had he overruled the veterans right away and made this decision three weeks earlier, it would get a thumbs-up. But now it might be too little, too late.

Besides, isn’t shuffleboard a game that old people play on cruise ships? Aren’t the Steelers trying to get younger? THUMBS DOWN

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