For the Pittsburgh Steelers, it was another game, another blowout result, only this time, they came out on the winning side of a 25-plus-point margin. But one thing that did not change was the fact that they continued to rack up a number of injuries, and as they continue to mount, they will obviously become harder and harder to overcome.
The most notable injury from Sunday’s victory over the Chiefs was the mid-foot sprain suffered by right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who has already been playing through a shoulder injury, in spite of the fact that he had not missed a snap until he had to come out of the game when he had his foot stepped on in the second quarter.
The Steelers are likely already operating with one backup offensive lineman in the picture, with B.J. Finney probably scheduled to replace starting left guard Ramon Foster for at least another week as he looks to work his way back from a sternum injury that he ended up exacerbating trying to play through against the Eagles.
Foster had to leave that game midway through the second quarter, and Finney replaced him the rest of the way, performing admirably given the circumstances, but he was very solid making his debut NFL start on Sunday.
Trying to operate with two backups along the offensive line—which is essentially what they did for the majority of last season—can get tricky, however, especially when it comes to communication between linemen in picking up defensive alignments and signals.
If both Foster and Gilbert are out next week, that will disrupt both the left and the right side of the line, and they are already dealing with a comparatively inexperienced left tackle, although that is somewhat offset by having All-Pro-capable starters in the interior.
Ryan Harris was brought in this offseason, ostensibly to compete for a starting job, but more generally to secure the depth along the offensive line at the tackle position. It seems likely at this point that we are going to see that theory put to the test on Sunday, with Harris starting at right tackle.
While Harris is a veteran, the truth is that he did not have the most impressive offseason with the Steelers, regardless of his extensive starting history with multiple teams, including the Super Bowl champions from last season.
Overall, however, it has to be acknowledged that the offensive line has performed well over the course of the season, with the exception of the Eagles’ contest, in which they both struggled to run the ball and also gave up four sacks. In the other three games combined, the Steelers have given up four sacks on 105 pass attempts.
The Steelers have built their recent success upon the ‘Next Man Up’ mentality, and Harris is likely to be the next next man up. He will be introduced with a major test against the Jets’ excellent defensive front line.