The most-recent training camp battle piece that I posted Monday morning centered around the backup tackle spot has generated a lot of good thoughts as it pertains to the Pittsburgh Steelers needing to carry any of the three players listed in that battle on the 53 man roster.
We already know that Kelvin Beachum will be the sixth offensive lineman on the roster, as he can back up multiple positions, so is it outlandish to think that the team might only carry seven offensive linemen on the 53 man roster out of training camp in an attempt to free up an extra roster spot elsewhere? No, not really and that is why I included the poll option of none of the three players listed making the roster for you to choose.
In order for the Steelers to carry only seven offensive linemen on the 53 roster; however, it would likely mean that John Malecki would be the seventh, as he can play both guard and center.
Beachum played right tackle last season thanks to both Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams going down with ankle injuries, and he figures to once again be the first player off of the bench should that happen in 2013. Starting left guard Ramon Foster also showed his position flexibility last season when he was forced to finish the 2012 season finale against the Cleveland Browns at right tackle after Beachum left the game with a concussion. That means the Steelers have four players on their offensive line that can play tackle and in theory, they would be able to survive two in game injuries at any of the five positions on their offensive line as a result.
Over the years, head coach Mike Tomlin has made a habit out of only dressing seven offensive linemen on game days, so the position flexibility of Beachum, Foster, Malecki and even Maurkice Pouncey would ensure that he can effectively handle any combination of two injured linemen during a game as long as both Gilbert and Adams didn\'t both go down in the same game.
Let\'s face it, would you really want Guy Whimper and Joe Long in a game anyway? Even if either were to make the 53 man roster as an eighth offensive linemen, they would likely be a game day inactive, so why not keep Long and Nik Embernate on the practice squad to groom and serve as practice bodies? Doing this would enable the Steelers to carry an extra positional player on the roster such as a sixth wide receiver, a fourth tight end or even an extra defensive back.
So what say you? Could you see the Steelers only carrying seven offensive linemen on the 53 man roster out of training camp with two more being assigned to the practice squad? It\'s certainly something to consider.