The Steelers found themselves in a serious pickle last season concerning their offensive line. The unit was not one of the league’s strongest to begin with, but injuries took a major toll on top of it.
Willie Colon went down for the season during OTA’s, and Max Starks was soon to follow during the regular season. The rest of the line found itself out for a week or two at a time, and right up until the Super Bowl, Maurkice Pouncey was the only consistent week in and week out starter.
The Steelers released veteran tackles Flozell Adams and Max Starks after the lockout because of salary cap issues, and have not done much to replace them in terms of talent. While the new contract for Willie Colon solidifies the right tackle position making Adams expendable at such a high price, Jonathan Scott is certainly not the answer at left tackle.
The Steelers have done very little to solidify their offensive line. While they spent a second-round pick on Florida offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert, and a sixth-round pick on guard Keith Williams, is it reasonable to expect either to contribute the way the Steelers need them to in 2011?
The Steelers seem to be relying on luck and a gut feeling concerning the linemen they have in camp.
Chris Kemoeatu is on the PUP list at this point, and bubble players exist at every position along the offensive line. None being of more concern than Jonathan Scott, who had a very difficult time filling in for the departed Max Starks in 2010.
Questions will be asked early and often about his ability to protect Ben Roethlisberger’s blindside, and this preseason will be a true test of what No. 7 can expect to see this season in terms of pressure and time in the pocket.
Let's not forget that for every Maurkice Pouncey there is a Jamain Stephens and Kendall Simmons to be had. To count on Marcus Gilbert so early on in a lockout shortened offseason/preseason (should Scott prove to be what he has always been (a backup offensive lineman)), is close to trying to catch lightning in a bottle twice.
Even if Colbert, Tomlin and company have a gut feeling about the young crop of guys coming in, this isn’t NCIS, it’s the NFL.