The Steelers' offensive line is facing a familiar problem, and it's not just that constant pressure it allowed in the preseason opener.
With rookie left tackle Mike Adams out a couple of weeks with a mild sprain of his anterior cruciate ligament, Pittsburgh is already reshuffling the offensive line. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Steelers used a league-high 25 different offensive-line combinations during the 2011 regular season. Now they're on their second one heading into their second preseason game.
Pittsburgh's starting lineup for the preseason opener was Adams, left guard Ramon Foster (because Willie Colon was injured), center Maurkice Pouncey, right guard David DeCastro and right tackle Marcus Gilbert. When the Steelers took to the field Sunday, Gilbert went from right to left tackle, Colon returned to left guard and Foster moved to right tackle. The decision to go with Foster at right tackle likely was influenced by the shaky performance by Trai Essex in the opener.
Pittsburgh could also face another decision if veteran left tackle Max Starks (offseason ACL surgery) is ready for the regular season. There has been increased talk about the available of Starks after the opener. Adams had a rough preseason debut, giving up 2 1/2 sacks in a span of nine plays even though the Eagles sat their starting defensive ends.
This isn't a surprise because all rookie linemen endure growing pains. DeCastro struggled in training camp but he had the best showing of all the starting Steelers offensive linemen Thursday. On a positive note, Adams looked solid in run blocking, sealing off the side and getting to the second level.
"He did some pretty impressive things,” Gilbert said of Adams, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Obviously, the sacks stand out, but he did some impressive things in run blocking. He’s going to improve. He’s a player who’s going to bounce back."
Gilbert added, "I just told him to relax and let it come to you. Being too amped up, being overly hyped, is not going to help you in a game. You have to be very calm and very detailed with what you're doing."