Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva made his first career start Sunday in the team’s 23-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and while the former undrafted free agent and Army captain didn’t have a flawless game, head coach Mike Tomlin didn’t sound overly concerned with his play when asked to evaluate it during his Tuesday press conference.
“I thought he did a lot of things well,” said Tomlin of Villanueva, who was forced into the starting lineup at left tackle after Kelvin Beachum was lost for the season to a torn knee ligament in Week 6. “Obviously, the performance will be remembered by the sack-fumble late, but that just comes with professional football and the left tackle position.
“We all did some collective things to bring that circumstance to a head where we got somewhat one dimensional and Tamba Hali was able to pin his ears back and win that down. But largely, I was pleased with the general progress of Al and the general trajectory of his game. We’ve got a tall task this week and look forward to watching him prepare and being even better.”
While Villanueva also took the blame for the team’s first sack in the game against the Chiefs, Tomlin chalked that one up to the opposing defense making a play.
“I never want to take away credit from an opponent,” said Tomlin. “It was great execution by those guys. Obviously, when you look back at any play, you’d like to have an opportunity to live some of them over. But largely, I just like to compliment those guys on a job well done.”
By the sound of things, Villanueva isn’t dwelling too much about what happened this past Sunday as he’s now moved on to the upcoming game against the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals.
“Obviously, there is another game coming up, and I have to understand the mistakes that I made and prepare for next week,” Villanueva said on Monday, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Villanueva will certainly have a tough task this week as he’ll be in charge of protecting the blind side of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who figures to return to the field on Sunday after missing the last four games with a sprained left MCL. Fortunately for Villanueva, however, he isn’t likely to face Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap on Sunday as he has lined up predominately on the left side so far this season. Dunlap has 6.5 of the Bengals 17 sacks on the season.