If the Pittsburgh Steelers can manage to keep their starting five offensive linemen healthy between now and the start of the regular season, the group figures to be the youngest starting unit in the league this year. With youth, however, comes inexperience and Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert talked about the pros and cons Thursday during an interview on 93.7 The Fan.
“It’s really double-edged,” Colbert said, when asked if he has great expectations for his young offensive line this season. “They\’re exciting because they are young, they are athletic, but it’s also concerning because they\’re young. They have to gel. They have to come together. The offensive line, like no other unit, has to play five-as-one, and that takes a while. But if this group can come together, the exciting thing is, is that they can stay together for a while, and we haven\’t had that recently. Ramon Foster is the oldest of the group and he\’s 27.
“So the youth is exciting, but it\’s also concerning, because obviously if they don\’t go, we don\’t go, and we have to protect Ben. Because without Ben, our chances are limited. So we have to be a better running team, and we have to protect the quarterback, and it starts up front.”
Between the Steelers current five starting linemen, they have started a total of 88 regular-season games. It should be noted, however, that center Maurkice Pouncey has 45 of those starts which leaves 43 combined starts that the other four have made.
This line is indeed young and athletic enough to execute more of the outside zone that we should see in 2013, but that youthfulness has also already led to some poor pass protection as well. That should improve this season. At least we hope it will.
The group has already gelled together off the field as all five linemen spent a lot of time together during the offseason training at the team facility. How quick they can gel together on the field is yet to be determined, but if it happens quickly, there\’s a good chance that they can become the most dominant unit not only in the division, but the entire league.