The regular season is here, 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 the real work is now upon us, there is plenty left to be done.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is 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 regular season and beyond looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they wade through a regular season in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Question: Will B.J. Finney start at center for the Steelers tomorrow in place of Maurkice Pouncey, and if so, how will he play?
When B.J. Finney came out of college, he did so as a center, and as a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to the best center in the nation. But since entering the NFL, he has hardly gotten the opportunity to play at center. While he has seen snaps in several games, including two starts, they almost all have come at guard.
The one time that he played center meaningfully came in the first game against the Ravens. Pouncey suffered an injury on the first drive, and while he tried to tough it out for most of the first half, Finney was the primary center for that game, and he, frankly, had a hard time with the Ravens’ interior defensive front, understandably.
With the Steelers heading into a season finale that holds no playoff implications for either party, they were fully expected to rest several starters, and aside from the Killer Bs, Pouncey is the next-most likely player to be given the day off, given his importance, his injury history, and his veteran status.
In the rare times that the Steelers have actually had the opportunity to pull starters from games at the ends of convincing wins, they do often take Pouncey out, so it’s reasonable to anticipate that they will do so on Sunday, provided that they can get enough players on the active list so that he doesn’t dress—unless he campaigns to play, which is certainly possible. He did, after all, just miss a whole year, and every game means a little something more.
With that said, I certainly would like to get a good look at Finney at center playing a first-team defense, even if it is Cleveland’s. He played ‘above the line’ to say the least in the two games that he started at left guard, but center is where he should be at his best. And there were some communication issues the last time he was snapping the ball as well, so that will be something to keep an eye on as well if he starts.