The preseason has ended, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While training camp and the preseason might have seen a lot of work put into the team and the roster, there is plenty left to be done.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well, since the offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is really one that lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the preseason and beyond looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they head into a regular season in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Question: Will both Chris Hubbard and B.J. Finney dress tomorrow night with Cody Wallace out?
For most of his tenure as the Steelers’ head coach, Mike Tomlin has favored dressing only seven offensive linemen on game days—one player to serve as the swing tackle behind the starters, and another who can play all three interior positions.
The team would normally have those two players set with Ryan Harris as the swing tackle and Cody Wallace as the interior swing man, even if his best position is center, but he has played and started at guard as well.
The veteran offensive lineman suffered a hyperextended knee in the middle of the preseason, however, and has not been able to practice for a few weeks now. He has already been ruled out for the season opener, and one might wonder how many more games he could potentially miss.
With Wallace out, however, I suspect that the Steelers will want to carry both Finney and Hubbard on the 46-man active list (and this will likely happen due to the fact that four players have already been ruled out for the game, leaving obvious additional inactives at quarterback, defensive end, and inside linebacker).
But more to the point, I don’t think that the Steelers trust Hubbard to be one snap away at playing center, and I think they are more comfortable with Finney at center than at guard. Of his about 150 snaps in the preseason, less than 40 came at right guard, with the rest at center.
Meanwhile, the Steelers gave Hubbard no snaps at center throughout the preseason, much in contrast to the year before, when they fed him the center snaps in order to expand his versatility. In part due to desire for further flexibility and in part due to necessity, he spent most of his time this preseason at tackle.
This is in part an open question for the following week if Wallace is still out, because I would assume they will get some of their other injured players back after this week. The inactive list for the opener is pretty easy to make due to the injuries, but they may actually have to choose to dress both for the second game.