Steelers Offensive Line Has Something Going For It

You may not expect it, but I’m here to praise the Steelers’ offensive line.

This year’s Steelers offensive line isn’t the most talented in team history–not even close. It’s unlikely that anyone on this year’s line will end up in the Pro Bowl. But this year’s line could end up being one of the deepest in recent memory.

The Steelers may not have any stars, but when it comes to the interior of the line, they also do have a lot of guys who are pretty equal in talent. Let’s map out a nightmare scenario–say that Justin Hartwig and Chris Kemoeatu suffered season-ending injuries during the preseason. If that happened, the Steelers would likely start first-round pick Maurkice Pouncey at center with Ramon Foster (who started at the end of last season) at one guard spot and Trai Essex (who started all of last year) at the other guard.

And they would still have backups who you wouldn’t worry about stepping in. That would leave Doug Legursky as the primary backup at guard and center.

The situation would be significantly more precarious if there was an injury at tackle, but Essex could slide outside (as could Ramon Foster). And the Steelers would still have the less-than-impressive Jonathan Scott to also back-up at tackle (or Tony Hills).

Beyond that last year’s third-round pick Kraig Urbik and apparently promising rookie Dorian Brooks would fill out the roster. That’s nine offensive linemen with (in this unlikely scenario) four more on injured reserve. And Pittsburgh could do that without resorting to

Admittedly, you’d rather have five excellent offensive linemen than 12 so-so ones–I’m not arguing that this is a great situation–but it is worth noting that Pittsburgh seems to have five or six guard/centers who are all capable of playing.

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  • ToddInSyracuse

    JJ,

    Love you work, but you must have taken your happy pills today to praise the OL. Essex and Hartwig are two of weakest interior lineman in the league, but they started over Foster (who looked horrible in limited play) and Legurski last year none-the-less. What does that say about their depth inside?

    Pouncey will surely be an upgrade, but may not be ready in wk 1. As you point out, the team is razor thin at tackle, requiring the replacement of TWO positions in case of injury (assumes Essex is the starter at RG).

    Steeler fans have every right to be apprehensive about the OL. I hope they prove me wrong, but until the team starts investing more at the position, mediocrity is the best we can look forward to.

  • drinkingclub

    I make sacrifices to the football gods that Pouncey turns out to be great. That could turn around the line for the next five or ten years.

  • JJ Cooper

    I’m praising the offensive line, but in a very specific way–the difference between the starting three at guard and center and the second stringers is very small. That’s not a big thing, but it does mean that the Steelers could survive an injury or two along the interior of the line with few problems. Rewind to 2004-2005. Back then if Alan Faneca/Jeff Hartings had gone down, the combo of Chukky Okobi and Barrett Brooks would have been very scary.

    That doesn’t mean I’m saying don’t be apprehensive about the line–be apprehensive. But at least in this one small way, there’s something to be happy about.