Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Steelers' lack of line depth is magnified
By Jamison Hensley
A day after coach Mike Tomlin took the Pittsburgh Steelers to Dave and Busters to build some team unity, the Steelers will play the not-so-fun game of musical chairs along the offensive line.
With right tackle Mike Adams expected to be out until training camp after being stabbed last weekend, the Steelers' lack of depth on the line is going to be magnified over the last two weeks of offseason workouts. Pittsburgh has two choices to replace Adams, and neither are great options.
The Steelers could turn to Guy Whimper, a free agent from the Jacksonville Jaguars who was signed last month. Whimper has experience with 22 starts over six seasons, 15 of those in 2011. But it's not exactly good experience, especially from the quarterback's perspective. He led the NFL in sacks allowed in 2011 with 14, and gave up four sacks in six starts last season.
If Pittsburgh doesn't want to go with Whimper, the other choice is Kelvin Beachum, a seventh-round pick from a year ago. Beachum is the best option at right tackle, a spot where he started the last five games for the Steelers last season. But moving Beachum to right tackle would hurt the interior of the line. Beachum has been working this offseason on becoming the top backup at guard and center after Willie Colon was released and Doug Legursky wasn't re-signed.
Outside of Whimper and Beachum, the Steelers are extremely inexperienced on the offensive line. Only one other backup, John Malecki, has played in an NFL game, and he's only played in one. The rest of Pittsburgh's depth is made up of two practice squad players from a year ago (Justin Cheadle and Joe Long) and five undrafted rookies (Joe Madsen, Nik Embernate, Mike Golic, Mike Farrell and Chris Hubbard).
And unlike last year, the Steelers can't call on their fallback option, Max Starks. He signed with the San Diego Chargers two weeks ago.
Tomlin said Adams is expected to come back by training camp in late July, although the team is "taking it day by day."
"They're expecting six weeks or so," Tomlin told reporters Monday. "He's going to go through a couple of weeks of inactivity until he can proceed with the next step, but obviously the next step for him is getting out of the hospital. We expect that to come within the next 24 hours, and he'll proceed from there."