On Tuesday Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked if it was possible that he decides to dress eight offensive linemen Sunday night against the Cincinnati Bengals and he replied that there was.
“Absolutely it\’s a possibility,” said Tomlin. “It\’s a real possibility when you consider the circumstances. Obviously with Marcus (Gilbert) being down, and let\’s say Maurkice Pouncey makes it, obviously you want to fortify potentially yourself in that situation. I think eight linemen is a serious discussion that\’s going to take place given the circumstance – not only the recent history with what has transpired with the group, but also the very present in terms of some of the men that will be playing. Obviously we\’ll be dealing with things as we approach the game.”
Now that the Friday injury report is out we now know that center Maurkice Pouncey is questionable. Marcus Gilbert was ruled out on Tuesday, so that leaves the Steelers with only 7 offensive linemen assuming Pouncey indeed dresses.
Based on the number of players ruled out for the game already, and the fact that Pouncey was able to practice on a limited basis this week, I suspect he will dress regardless. Will he start? That decision might come down to gametime. In order for the Steelers to dress 8 for the game, John Malecki will need to be signed off of the practice squad on Saturday and I think that is still likely to happen. Malecki would be the eighth lineman to dress and would serve as the emergency center and swing guard in the game.
So who would the Steelers release to make room for Malecki? There are really only two choices here. Defensive end Corbin Bryant, who was signed on Tuesday after Alameda Ta\’amu was placed on the reserve suspended list, is one choice and veteran backup quarterback Charlie Batch is the other. The Steelers haven\’t dressed 7 defensive linemen for a game all season and I can\’t see Bryant getting a helmet after just three practices.
Keep in mind that 7 players need to be listed as inactive 90 minutes prior to kickoff and 5 are already set in stone in Gilbert, Troy Polamalu, Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman and Chris Carter. Personally I can\’t see Batch being released as he could still take a spot on the inactive list just the same. The other inactive will likely come down to either Adrian Robinson or Pouncey, but I have a feeling it will be Robinson as number 7 as that is the only way that the Steelers can dress 8 offensive linemen this week.
If Malecki is promoted on Saturday, look for Bryant to be released.