It is official “Steeler Nation”: The 2012 version of “Offensive Line Musical Chairs” has started in Pittsburgh!
After he sustained a knee injury in Pittsburgh’s first preseason game against Philadelphia, Rookie Mike Adams will be forced to the sidelines for what appears to be 2 weeks. With Adams out, Left Guard Willie Colon back from his own injury, and David DeCastro having earned the starting nod at Right Guard, the Steelers shuffled substitute Left Guard Ramon Foster to Right Tackle, and Right Tackle Marcus Gilbert over to Big Ben’s blind side.
While it is a bit disheartening to see Adams miss some time, the roster moves themselves are not exactly a huge cause for concern. Gilbert was slated to move over to the Left side for this season anyway and had taken some reps there during the offseason. As for Foster, while he has not played Tackle extensively since he was at Tennessee, he has the body type the Steelers’ look for in a Tackle, can run-block decently, and possesses enough of a skill-set at the position in terms of his pass-blocking to shore up the Right side for however long Adams is hurt. Plus, popular veteran Max Starks is still on the roster, and once he regains full health, can slide over to Left Tackle in case of another emergency.
Although the Steelers have the ability to play some “roster Tetris” along their Offensive Line, the fact that a guy which appeared to be an instrumental part of the rebuilding process is already missing time is a huge blow. Cohesiveness (outside of talent) is probably the most important ingredient which goes into building a successive Offensive Line. And while the Steelers might have upgraded in the talent department at essentially every position over the last three years, Big Ben’s blocking unit has been maligned by injuries, numerous different lineups, and personnel changes across the board.
While I have complete and total faith that Offensive Line Coach Sean Kugler can “MacGyver” some sort of passable Line if disaster inevitably strikes, I am frustrated with the fact that he has already had to do it multiple times during his two year tenure with the franchise. What Kugler and the rest of the Offense needs is five guys to simply stay healthy for an extended period of time so they can build some chemistry and find out what works and what does not as a unit. My only hope is that the Steelers can find some sort of solution soon, because this “Offensive Line Question Mark” is something which has plagued this team over the last half decade.
All we can do now though “Steeler Nation” is cross our fingers’, wait until the music stops, and hope nobody gets injured trying to find a chair.