The Pittsburgh Steelers are scheduled to hit the training camp practice fields of Saint Vincent College for the first time on Thursday and with that we hope to get reports on who lines up where on both sides of the ball in regard to the first team, but more specifically on the offensive line.
It goes without saying that Maurkice Pouncey will be be the first team center and Willie Colon will be the first team guard when the first offensive snap is taken, but beyond that there are still question marks in regard to how the starting five will ultimately shake out when the team plays the Denver Broncos in week 1.
Marcus Gilbert is expected to be the first team right tackle, but he may have tweaked his hamstring during the conditioning run that took place late on Wednesday. With Max Starks starting training camp on the PUP list, that leaves rookie Mike Adams and veteran Trai Essex as the two possible choices to open up training camp as the first team left tackle initially. Don\’t be surprised if it is Essex that gets the nod the first few days in an effort to send Adams a message that he will not just be handed the job.
The same goes for first round draft pick, guard David DeCastro, as well. While he could ultimately be the starting right guard by the time week 1 rolls around, it should not be a surprise if Ramon Foster get the first team looks right out of the chute. You could also throw in Doug Legursky as a possible candidate as well, but if completely healthy, my money would be on Foster.
Should Gilbert wind up missing the first few practices with that supposed hamstring strain, it will be interesting to see if the third year Chris Scott gets the nod at right tackle until Gilbert is ready to go. It\’s also a possibility that if Gilbert is down that Essex takes the first team right tackle reps. That would of course leave Adams to run with the first team.
Head coach Mike Tomlin was asked who would get the first team left tackle reps during his Wednesday afternoon press conference and he sounded pretty unsure himself. “I don\’t know. We\’ll see tomorrow,” said Tomlin. Perhaps that uncertainty revolves around the health of Gilbert, but that is as far as I am willing to speculate.
So what do we make of all this? It means don\’t get too caught up with who takes the first team reps on the offensive line during the first few days of training camp. The picture should become a little clearer by the time the first preseason game rolls around.
Remember, the first team starting five last year when the team first hit the practices fields? Of course the CBA rules regarding signed free agents and a few injuries prevented several players from participating, but the starting five left to right were: Kyle Jolly, Keith Williams, Pouncey, Foster and C. Scott.