As unfortunate as it is, injuries and poor-play strike can strike any N.F.L. team along their offensive line. When those sorts of problems occur, it certainly helps if the team has some battle-tested and versatile backups who can step in at a moment’s notice.
Although the Steelers appear to have a one of the league’s most young and talented starting offensive lines “on paper,” they do have a “jack-of-all-trades” backup like Kelvin Beachum at their disposal if the aforementioned issues arise.
A 7th round draft choice last April, I for one figured that the former college left tackle was destined for the practice squad during his rookie campaign after he struggled mightily at times against “second/third-teamers” during the preseason. Pittsburgh’s coaching staff on the other hand kept Beachum on the 53-man roster throughout the 2012 season, and it definitely turned out to be a wise choice for all parties involved.
Kelvin was eventually pressed into action at mid-season when massive amounts of injuries once again struck the Steelers’ offensive line. Luckily for him, Beachum gained a significant amount of experience at the right tackle spot over Pittsburgh’s final six games. The then-rookie started five contests, and he managed to look very good against the eventual-Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in his first ever pro start.
Although Beachum (6’3″ 303 lbs.) played both guard (during the preseason) and tackle last year, the Steelers’ coaching staff appear interested in using the former S.M.U. Mustang’s athleticism, versatility and intelligence to their advantage during the current offseason period by giving him reps at another position.
According to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Trib Live), Pittsburgh’s brass might actually intend to kick Beachum inside this season:
I certainly can’t blame the Steelers’ coaches for exploring the option of molding Beachum into a potential backup at center. Although he is a three-time Pro Bowl honoree, Maurkice Pouncey has been nicked up during the last two regular seasons. Furthermore, former backup Doug Legursky still remains unsigned, and with every passing day it appears that he will likely play elsewhere this fall.
Remember readers, injuries have been the primary reason why Pittsburgh’s offensive lines have been “makeshift at best” over the last half-decade. Thus, the presence of a “Swiss Army Knife” reserve like Beachum is an enormous plus for a team in need of stability if things go down the toilet for a starter or two from a health standpoint. At least to me, new offensive line coach, Jack Bicknell, Jr., has nothing to lose and everything to gain in this instance. There is no harm whatsoever in giving Beachum more tools to to add to his still developing skill-set during the OTA periods.
Although I hope that Beachum becomes the team’s “super sub.” this summer, I would definitely prefer to see Marcus Gilbert, Ramon Foster, Pouncey, David DeCastro and Mike Adams play each and every game of the 2013 campaign together. Tomlin & Co. obviously have confidence that Beachum’s athleticism and smarts can allow him to play multiple positions when he is called upon, and it puts a smile on my face to know that they appear to be intent on figuring out where the former Mustang can be best utilized in a backup role.
So readers, keep Beachum on your radars over the coming months. Even if he is not taking reps with the first-team, watching where he eventually settles from a positional standpoint should be interesting enough.
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