Correction ladies and gentlemen. I previously predicted that after the injury to the right knee of rookie left tackle Mike Adams in the 2012 preseason opener for the Pittsburgh Steelers, that eighth-year veteran Trai Essex would start at left tackle for the next game.
It has now been said that Pittsburgh will move right tackle Marcus Gilbert to left tackle, and have right guard Ramon Foster play at right tackle. The move to right tackle for Foster couldn’t have come at a more convenient time, since rookie David DeCastro recently was named the starting right guard.
As of right now, the Steelers’ starting offensive line is Gilbert at left tackle, Willie Colon at left guard, Maurkice Pouncey at center, DeCastro at right guard, and Foster at right tackle. This lineup could change between now and the Steelers’ second preseason game versus the Indianapolis Colts.
The rearranging of the offensive line still has Essex second in line at the left tackle position. Kyle Jolly, Chris Scott, and rookie Kelvin Beachum will be the other tackles waiting in the wings.
Whether it is Gilbert or Essex at left tackle, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger should have a solid, experienced protector on his blindside. This is something that is very much needed for a quarterback that has a partially torn rotator cuff that “feels great,” and a possibly still gimpy ankle.
As of right now, the interior part of the o-line seems to be the strongest. Pouncey is a Pro Bowl center, so there aren’t any worries there. DeCastro seemed to be a little shaky at the start of training camp, but appeared to hit his stride in his first NFL action versus the Philadelphia Eagles in the first preseason game of the season.
Having running backs Isaac Redman, Baron Batch, and Jonathan Dwyer pound it between the tackles shouldn’t be a problem as long as DeCastro and Pouncey are leading the way.
The question remains whether if this tentative lineup of the o-line is good enough to produce in the beginning of the regular season. A speedy recovery from Adams will definitely help, and an even speedier recovery from veteran left tackle Max Starks would be a bigger help.
Regardless of who is in the trenches, the success of Pittsburgh’s offense in the early part of the regular season will be dictated by the performance of the offensive line.
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