Third-year offensive lineman B.J. Finney has made eight starts over the course of his career at three different positions. He started five at left guard, two at center, and finally started at right guard on Sunday in place of David DeCastro. It was arguably his worst of the eight starts that he finished.
In fact, his five starts at left guard clearly stood head and shoulders above his other three starts, in one of which he was injured in the first half and did not finish the game. So why does he appear to be most comfortable at left guard?
It’s not uncommon for a player to be more comfortable on one side than another. Left tackle and right tackle are not interchangeable, nor is left and right guard. While they employ the same techniques and concepts, they are mirrored to the opposite side, and requires separate learning and practice.
No matter what the reason, however, it is required for backup linemen to have versatility at all spots for which he is responsible. DeCastro has not been practicing for the second straight week dealing with a hand fracture, so if he is going to be tasked to start again, it’s imperative that he perform better than he did this past week.
That will not be an easy assignment going up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defensive front line, which they continued to bolster up this offseason, and they also have the linebackers that are capable of making plays behind them.
The Steelers did not get a chance to run the ball much against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, but that has typically been his strength in the starts he has previously made. That was not the case in his last performance.
He graded out well in pass protection—in general, the Steelers’ offensive line performed well in this area on a whopping 71 dropbacks, giving up just a single sack—but even there, he had slips that he was fortunate not to have to pay for.
But the biggest reason that he will have to perform better is because it is becoming increasingly likely that he is going to have an inexperienced player starting to his right, as right tackle Marcus Gilbert seems likely to miss Monday’s game.
The reports are that Matt Feiler will start if Gilbert is unable to go. Feiler has become primarily a guard, but he played nine snaps at tackle last year at the end of the Lions game. Calling upon him to start a full game is another matter, especially after he has worked so much at guard the past two years. Chances are he will need all the help he can get.