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Injured linemen the norm for Steelers

August 19, 2011 - Ray Eckenrode
Bleeding Black and Gold

+ Maybe it just seems like the Steelers have more offensive line injuries than any team in the history of the NFL, but … here we go again. It didn’t even take a quarter Thursday for Pittsburgh to lose two left tackles (Jon Scott and Marcus Gilbert) and although it appears neither one will be lost for an extended period, it raises a question: Is there a reason (involving either technique or scheme) that so many Steelers lineman wind up getting cut at the knees near the pile? We’re not saying there is, we’re just saying it’s a good question.

+ Both tackles the Steelers cut earlier this summer, Max Starks and Flozell Adams, are still free agents. At the time they were let go, there was speculation the team would bring one or both of them back at lower salaries, and that thinking is probably solidified by the injury spate in the preseason. The fact that Starks has not been grabbed yet seems to validate rumors about his condition after a 2010 neck injury. Adams wants to be a starter and is likely waiting to see if an opportunity arises for the season begins. If one does not, don’t be surprised to see him back in black and gold.

+ The Tony Hills experiment at right guard got short-circuited Thursday by the tackle injuries, but expect to see the chardonnay drinker back at guard next week against the Falcons. After protecting Vince Young’s blind side at Texas, Hills has rarely been abel to even get in uniform for the Steelers, let alone contribute. But Mike Tomlin and Co. have lauded Hills’ improved condition and athletic ability entering camp and he’s credited MMA training for it, so we’re willing to wait to pass judgment.

+ After watching Troy Polamalu flying around the field and Rashard Mendenhall bursting through holes Thursday, please keep this in mind: That is as healthy as they will be this season. The Mendenhall who blazed down the sideline for an overtime touchdown last September against the Falcons was not the same near-plodding Mendenhall we saw down the stretch. And, of course, the Polamalu we saw in the Super Bowl was but an injury-riddled shadow of the player who dominated the first half of the season. That’s not saying we’ll see such a precipitous decline in level of play this year, just a reminder that the NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint.

+ There’s an interesting battle shaping up between Arnaz Battle and Tyler Grisham for the final WR spot. That spot, however, is really a special teams position so how many tackles they make is just as important as how many receptions.

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