It would be fair to say that things have not exactly gone according to plan for the Pittsburgh Steelers since opening up training camp. The myriad instances of things going awry need not be listed, but suffice it to say that the offensive line in particular has suffered, with the only greater victim being the kicking position.
The headline of this narrative is unquestionably the fractured fibula suffered by All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey, who will begin the regular season on the injured reserve list with a return designation, and while there is optimism that he can return sometime soon after the midway point of the season, that is far from a guarantee.
The Steelers are also starting off the season without their reserve tackle, Mike Adams, a fourth-year former fourth-round draft pick, with starting experience at both left and right tackle. He underwent a back operation on the eve of training camp, and we have not seen him since.
When Adams initially began training camp on the Active PUP List, head coach Mike Tomlin projected approximately a four-week recovery window that would conclude toward the end of training camp, but as subsequent events have shown, the lineman’s recovery has not followed that projection.
In an effort to trim the roster down to 75 players earlier this week, the Steelers reverted Adams from the preseason Active PUP List to the Reserve PUP List, which extends six weeks into the regular season, which means that the Steelers will be, at minimum, without him for that period.
They will also, in essence, also be down their top game day interior reserve lineman in Cody Wallace, because he will have to enter the starting lineup to command the center position until he returns. Which means that the Steelers’ offensive line depth has been completely decimated.
It is, of course, a level of carnage that extends from the top to the bottom, and which has extended through the absolute entire length of this preliminary season period, beginning with Adams’ back surgery and ending on literally the last meaningful play of the last preseason game last night.
In all, the Steelers lost three reserve offensive lineman, of which at least two figured to make the practice squad, or even the 53-man roster, depending on how poorly things ended up breaking for them.
Kelvin Palmer, a tackle brought in just prior to training camp in order to fill the void left by Adams, was injured in the second half after being forced to fill in due to poor performance from Mitchell Van Dyk.
Then, on the final play of the game, as mentioned, both Van Dyke and B.J. Finney suffered ankle injuries of some degree as they were rolled up on from behind on a goal line play in a meaningless game that could not even be won.
Speaking personally, I had Finney making the 53-man roster as the fourth interior lineman behind Doug Legursky, barring a waiver pickup, with Van Dyk making the practice squad. Their injuries surely eliminate those chances, which means the Steelers could very well be on the lookout for not just one, but several linemen, including perhaps two just for the 53-man roster alone.