Brett Keisel Goes Down: Can The Already "Thin" Line Survive?

Justin ZuckerCorrespondent ISeptember 16, 2008

News flash: Injuries in the NFL happen! 

Injuries happen and they happen often.  You see it in pre-season (please don’t add another game!), you see it in Week 1 (Tom Brady), and you see it in the playoffs (Carson Palmer).  As Denzel Washington said in Training Day, “This is chess, this ain’t checkers!” 

The Steelers demise of 2007 began, in my humble opinion, with two key losses to their personnel.  Willie Parker and Aaron Smith went down and there were no true able bodied back-ups.  Najeh Davenport and the combination of Travis Kirschke and Nick Eason had no answers. 

Guess what Steelers fans?  Brett Keisel is hurt.  He could be out for two months.  Dan Kreider had the same injury in 2001 and missed two and a half months.  Now don’t get me wrong, Brett is not the dominator that Aaron Smith is.  He can’t jam the run like Aaron, but he is versatile, he can put pressure on the QB and free up the OLB’s.  And he has a big motor, and it’s contagious.

Let’s be perfectly clear.  I am not whining and I am not waving a white flag.  My point is this.  If there is a glaring weakness on the Steelers it is their depth on both lines.  They can’t afford injuries on either line and that scares me.  The back-ups to Keisel are the aforementioned Kirschke and Eason, and Orpheus Roye. 

The Steelers have done a relatively poor job in keeping both of those areas stocked with players.  Their defensive line is aging and recent draft picks have failed miserably. 

The offensive line has been, at times, offensive.  They are playing better as of late, but can you imagine an injury to any of the starting five?  I suppose Max Starks can do alright for a few games.  What about three interior linemen?  Can we legitimately hope for Darnell Stapleton to be a competent fill in?  Was Sean Mahan so disgruntled about losing his job to Justin Hartwig that he HAD to be traded?

There are lots of questions that will most likely go unanswered.   Perhaps this will be a moot point.  I sure hope so.  But the Steelers are built to dominate on both lines of scrimmage.  They HAVE to run the ball.  They HAVE to protect Big Ben.  And they HAVE to stop the run.  Doing those things is the formula for success.  It is as true as a Steelers victory in Ohio.  Stay healthy, big men.  Or this early excitement will fade into the night.

Oh, Mr. Colbert, would you please address the depth in the offseason?  And it wouldn't hurt to sign a few of our free agent offensive linemen.