Now that the bye week is over, its time for the Pittsburgh Steelers to turn their attention to this Sunday’s game against the shockingly competitive New York Jets. With no Mike Tomlin press conference last week and a CBA mandated four day break from practice during the bye, there was precious little info out of Steeler camp about those potential line-up changes Tomlin promised. And we all know Tomlin wouldn’t promise something without intending to follow through.
The most change looks to be coming to the team’s beleaguered offense line. It’s amazing to think after blowing two second round picks on Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams that the team is already resigned to tossing them in the garbage heap but that appears to be where things are headed. The bye may mean newly acquired LT Levi Brown isn’t completely up to speed in time for Sunday although we saw Fernando Velasco walk in off the street and start at center in a week’s time. Word is the Steelers are eager to throw Kelvin Beachum into the starting mix – he’s been sharing first team snaps at LT with Brown – which means he’ll start at LT if Brown isn’t ready or at RT if he is.
Meanwhile, there’s trouble brewing at guard where starter Ramon Foster continues to battle a pectoral strain. He first got banged up against the Bears and the injury is still bothering him to the point he’s listing himself as “day-to-day.” Beachum has been used as a super-sub but it’s pretty clear he’s better suited to play tackle than interior lineman. The problem is neither Adams or Gilbert can play guard leaving the job to the terrifying Guy Whimper. As scary as this is to say, they might be better off with Beachum at LG and Gilbert at RT (assuming Brown starts at left) than with Whimper on the field in any capacity.
One person we definitely won’t be seeing Sunday is rookie speedster Markus Wheaton. Wheaton broke his pinky finger in England and underwent surgery to insert a pin. While he’s expected back sooner rather than later, the gash won’t be sufficiently healed by this weekend so he’s out. I’ve been lobbying for him getting more playing time especially in light of Manny Sanders continually unimpressive performance – why, oh why, didn’t they take New England’s 3rd rounder for that bum? – but I think they’re okay at wide receiver. Maybe they’ll use one of their other young wide outs like Derek Moye, who had that one nice end zone catch and hasn’t been seen since.