Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Mike Tomlin: Steelers need O-line help
PITTSBURGH -- Marcus Gilbert and Doug Legursky's left shoulders appear to be OK. Maybe. Jonathan Scott's left ankle remains tender but not terrible. Probably.
Still, if you're an out-of-work offensive lineman, there could be a call from the Pittsburgh Steelers in your near future.
Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday the Steelers are "open to looking to maybe bring someone in" this week to provide the team with some much-needed depth after three starters had to be helped off the field during Sunday night's 23-20 victory over Indianapolis.
Tomlin stressed the team is looking for depth, not someone to show up on Wednesday and be ready to play in Sunday's game at Houston.
"It would just be for practice purposes only," Tomlin said.
At least, as of now. Given the perpetual state of flux the line has been for the last two seasons, Tomlin knows it's too early to rule anything out.
If Scott can't go, veteran Trai Essex -- signed off the street earlier this month -- will be in charge of protecting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's blind side at left tackle against the Texans (2-1).
His job? Try and hold off a Houston pass rush led by Mario Williams. Not exactly the player the Steelers want to see after allowing Indianapolis defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis wreak havoc in the backfield in front of a national audience, sacking Ben Roethlisberger three times and forcing him to put it on the ground twice.
Tomlin gave credit to Freeney and Mathis rather than point fingers at his players, though he acknowledges the line needs to get better if the Steelers want to take some of the pressure off Roethlisberger.
The running game is 20th in the league in yards per game (85.7) and 26th in yards per attempt (3.3). Not exactly the formula the franchise typically uses to win games.
Tomlin would like the offense to be more balanced but refuses to place blame on the line or running back Rashard Mendenhall.
"We're still very much a team in development in that area," he said. "I'm trying not to frame it."
Plugging holes along the line is almost an annual challenge for the Steelers. They did it with aplomb last year, using seven different starting combinations en route to a Super Bowl appearance.
If Scott can't play, the line will have its fourth different lineup in as many games.