The Pittsburgh Steelers are getting a bit of a break this week against the Detroit Lions, as the 3-3 team will be coming out of their bye week without their left tackle, Greg Robinson, who has already been ruled out for Sunday’s game with an ankle injury.
In his place, as we noted yesterday, will be Brian Mihalik, who spent time on the Steelers’ practice squad, and even the 53-man roster, over the course of the past couple of seasons. He also was briefly on the Lions’ 53-man roster last season as well. Obviously there is something that they liked about him.
But I’m not sure that they envisioned him being one snap away from protecting the blind side of Matthew Stafford, and not in a game in which James Harrison might be playing.
You can be assured, of course, that it won’t just be Harrison. And my guess is that it won’t just by T.J. Watt, either. Last week, the rookie said specifically that the Steelers planned to attack the Bengals’ tackle rotation by putting different players against them, which included Bud Dupree getting snaps against the left tackle.
It would seem to me that it would be a good idea to continue with that theory into this week, throwing a number of different players, showing different skill sets, at a young player who is making his first career start, and who, even more importantly, is not a natural at his position.
Because he, like Alejandro Villanueva, does not have a background of playing tackle to draw from—he was a defensive player prior to this—he is at a disadvantage due to his lack of experience in the NFL. In other words, there are still a lot of little things that he has never seen before that are suddenly going to be thrown at him.
Villanueva talked about that dilemma a couple of years ago early in his tenure as a starter, and how he was still learning new things every week from defenses in seeing specific modes of attack that he had never been exposed to before, that you can only learn from having faced it directly.
Mihalik doesn’t have much of any of that. So let’s let Watt, Harrison, Dupree, and whoever else wants to line up against him teach him a thing or two en route to the quarterback for what I would like to see as at least a small handful of sacks.
Not that I wish ill for Mihalik, of course. I liked him and saw the potential in him and his size as a project, development player, and wanted to see him continue to hone his craft on the practice squad under Mike Munchak this season.
But now we will see what he has learned, and I’m hoping his former teammates have some lessons yet to teach him.