Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is notorious for only dressing seven offensive linemen for games, but due to what happened last week in the season opener against the Tennessee Titans; you have to wonder if he is starting to give second thoughts to dressing an eighth.
When starting center Maurkice Pouncey went down on the opening drive with a knee injury last Sunday, the Steelers had no choice but to replace him with second-year offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum. That wound up affecting the game plan as Beachum was apparently scheduled to be used as a second tight end quite a bit during the game.
Had newly-acquired center Cody Wallace been up to speed with the offense and dressed for the Titans game, perhaps things would have turned out a little different, as Beachum more than likely would have been able to continue his role as a tight end. Wallace, however, was listed as one of the seven inactives prior to the game as Tomlin chose to dress Guy Whimper, a backup guard/tackle as the seventh instead.
According to reports, center Fernando Velasco, who was signed Monday to replace Pouncey on the roster, will start Monday night at center. If that winds up happening, then Beachum should be able to resume his role as a second tight end. However, should disaster strike yet again at the center position, the Steelers will be back in the same boat that they were in last week unless Tomlin chooses to dress Wallace for the game.
Being as Beachum is also presumably the primary backup at guard and tackle, it still would mean he would have to vacate his tight end role should something happen to any of the other four starters as well. Dressing eight linemen would at least offer another layer of protection against that.
In Tomlin’s defense, there is no way perfect way to defend every single position from injury, but when you take into account the Steelers offensive line has been snake bitten by injuries over the last few years; he might want to consider dressing eight offensive linemen until Heath Miller is ready to return if the weekly game plan is to include Beachum serving as a second tight end.
So what will ultimately happen Monday night? By the looks of things on the Steelers injury report, Tomlin’s hands will likely be tied as to who dresses for the game because of the situation at the cornerback position. If Isaiah Green is promoted Sunday from the practice squad that will likely result in either Wallace or Whimper being made inactive.