Left Side Offensive Line Depth Could Be Sore Spot
With the Steelers 2009 training camp underway, one thing is apparent, the depth of the left side of the offensive line could be a sore spot this season. Both starting left tackle Max Starks and left guard Chris Kemoeatu have new contracts and both will be relied on heavily to protect the blind side of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. While both are not pro bowl caliber at their position, they are capable of getting the job done. The main problem arises if either go down with injuries or need to be spelled for a series or two. Second year tackle Tony Hills and third round draft pick Kraig Urbik have not started off well in camp this year. Hills especially looks bad. He is lunging and not using his hands well. His footwork is very sluggish on top of all of that. Urbik is a rookie, so it is too early to get a true assessment of him, but he needs to catch on fast. Behind both of them are undrafted free agent Ramon Foster and journeymen Jeremy Parquet and Jason Capizzi. Foster might be be the saving grace, but he is probably more of a guard than he is a tackle and also better on the right side.
The sore spot again lies with Hills, with what looked like a steal in the fourth round of the 2008 draft, now just looks like a wasted pick. At the rate he is going in camp, he might not survive the first roster cut. Urbik also is mostly a guard and more suited for the right side of the line on top of it.
All in all, someone needs to step up as a solid versatile left side replacement. This will be looked at heavily during preseason games as you will see several variations on the left side after the starters exit. If Tony Hills is the best the Steelers have to offer for left side depth, it could be a long season should Starks or Kemoeatu go down.