Beachum to start at left tackle if healthy

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers' left tackle of the future may already be on their roster, and it may not be Mike Adams, the 2012 second-round draft pick who opened the season there.

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley talked glowingly of Kelvin Beachum and said he has "earned" the right to play left tackle if he is healthy.

Beachum, who missed last Sunday's game because of a sprained knee, has practiced both days this week and is on track to return against the Bengals.

"He played at a pretty high level for us while he was in there against good competition," Haley said.

Beachum took over for the struggling Adams after the fourth game of the season and stabilized the left tackle position. The 6-foot-3, 306-pounder is not a prototypical left tackle, and he was a late seventh-round pick in the same draft that the Steelers selected guard David DeCastro in the first round and then Adams.

Haley said that combination is something that has fueled Beachum's rise from a key reserve who can play any position to the protector of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's blind side.

"I've seen guys like Curtis Martin carry a chip on their shoulder all the way to the Hall of Fame, getting drafted where they got drafted, whatever you can use to motivate yourself. He's that type of kid," Haley said of Beachum. "He is mentally tough. He carries a chip on his shoulder. He's been told he's not good enough to do a lot of different things. And yet he tries to prove everybody wrong, and he has to this point. I just love having him on our side. He's a great guy to work with."