As of right now, Kelvin Beachum is the starting left tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers moving forward following his performance Sunday in the win over the New York Jets. With that now known, offensive coordinator Todd Haley was asked Thursday during his weekly media session if Beachum will continue to be the primary backup at center and guard as well.
“No, we’re taking some of that off of him so he can just focus on one job,” said Haley. “He’s the left tackle and he’s getting ready to play.”
Judging by Haley’s comments, it likely means that Cody Wallace will dress as the backup center/guard for the first time this season Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. Wallace, a former fourth-round draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers in 2008, was signed by the Steelers after he was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the final round of cuts just prior to the start of the season.
While Wallace can play guard in a pinch, his best position is center, so that could mean that Guy Whimper will not dress against the Ravens should head coach Mike Tomlin once again decide to only dress seven offensive linemen in total like he has done so many times in the past.
Last Sunday against the Jets, the Steelers only dressed seven offensive linemen for the game and they were instantly down to six prior to kickoff thanks to newly acquired tackle Levi Brown suffering a serious triceps injury during pre-game warm-ups. Due to that freakish turn of events, Tomlin was asked Tuesday during his weekly press conference if he has given any thought to dressing eight offensive linemen moving forward.
“We make those decisions on a week-to-week basis based on the health of the men that we intend to utilize in the football game and we do it exclusively in regards to that,” said Tomlin. “Not based on the potential of somebody randomly getting hurt in warm-ups and so forth. That’s just the nature of the football. People get hurt from time to time. You make the necessary adjustments and you move on.”
With Brown now on injured reserve, former starter Mike Adams will have to dress as the backup tackle, so that should leave Whimper without a helmet.
As for Beachum, he is thrilled to again be playing the position that he played all four seasons at SMU.
“It’s something I’ve loved doing for a long time,” Beachum said, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “If they said, ‘Beachum, come and pick the position you want to play,’ it would be left tackle.”
Outside of two holding calls, a false start and an early pressure that nearly led to a sack/safety of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger last Sunday against the Jets, Beachum represented himself well in his first career start at left tackle. However, this week, he will be going up against Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, who already has seven sacks so far this season. Haley talked on Thursday about that upcoming challenge for his second-year offensive lineman.
“He’s got his work cut out for him,” said Haley. “There’s no doubt about it. One thing about Kelvin is that every time we say he’s this, he shows us he can be something more. That’s happened at every position. Now, it’s left tackle. This will be the biggest test to date. He’s working hard to get ready, but 55 [Suggs] is a great player.”