The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Pittsburgh Steelers exploring options for injury ravaged offensive line

  • Print

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Marcus Gilbert and Doug Legursky's left shoulders appear to be fine. 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 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 Texas (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 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 offence 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.

There haven't been nearly as many injuries on defence, and there's proof the Steelers are starting to round into shape after getting whipped in Baltimore in the season opener.

Pittsburgh shut out lifeless Seattle and held the Colts to 241 yards even though Indianapolis managed a late touchdown drive to tie the game at 20 behind lightly experienced backup quarterback Curtis Painter.

The defence could get a boost Sunday if defensive end Brett Keisel's sprained knee continues to improve. Keisel sat out last week while third-year man Ziggy Hood held his own.

Although Tomlin says the run defence could be better, the Steelers have been solid against the pass, allowing a mere 164 yards per game. Linebacker James Harrison continues to round into form as he comes back from a pair of off-season back surgeries, registering a sack and forced fumble that safety Troy Polamalu returned for a touchdown.

Tomlin laughed when asked if there's evidence the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year appears to be getting healthier.

"He's a sandbagger," Tomlin said, "we expect that."

The Steelers also expect their turnover problems to end. Pittsburgh is minus-9 through three games, easily the worst turnover ratio in the league.

Despite the mistakes, they're still 2-1 on the season. The mistakes so far have been visible but not damaging.

"We were not perfect by any stretch," Tomlin said. "We're very much a team in development ... but it's encouraging to see necessary plays in all three phases of the game."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Downtown BIZ Watch patrol along Main Street

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Young goslings are growing up quickly near Cresent Lake in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba- See Bryksa 30 Day goose project- Day 11- May 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100615 - Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 The Mane Attraction - Lions are back at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Xerxes a 3-year-old male African Lion rests in the shade of a tree in his new enclosure at the old Giant Panda building.  MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos


Do you plan to watch Saturday's boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google