Talkin' More Offensive Line: Willie Colon's Move to Left Guard Opens Up Tackle Competition

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 11: Offensive lineman Jonathan Scott #72 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on from the bench during the closing minutes of the Steelers 35-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens during the season opener at M&T Bank Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Wednesday's announcement that OT Willie Colon is now LG Willie Colon creates competition for the Steelers' right tackle position. It could even influence the left tackle position.

What it ultimately does, though, is completely transform the Steelers offensive line, which is probably overdue at this point.

The Game of Musical Linemen Continues

The Steelers led the NFL in offensive line combinations last season (I saw there were 22 variations of five linemen, both starting and in-game replacements), and 2012 will add a 23rd different group.

The team informed Marcus Gilbert he'll play left tackle this season, and told Colon he'll play left guard. C Maurkice Pouncey will stay where he is, and rookie David DeCastro will play right guard. That leaves Jonathan Scott and rookie Mike Adams vying for right tackle.

Or does it?

It wouldn't be a Steelers offensive line without some speculation. Granted, the Steelers made the determination on Gilbert before the draft or free agency, suggesting they were pretty much convinced that was the direction they want to go in. But with nearly a full year of experience on the right side, the argument could be made having a veteran next to him it would help transition DeCastro to the NFL.

In that case, why not put Scott there?

If I were a betting man, I'd say Scott will open training camp at right tackle. Bets are off after that. I don't feel comfortable with making any bolder a prediction, but it seems too rosy to me to suggest the right tackle job is Adams' to lose right now. It was obvious to anyone watching Pouncey was a better player than Justin Hartwig, but it was still the veteran's job when the first preseason game rolled around.

I don't see the sense in just giving a rookie a job, even if the veteran is not exactly a world-beater. Then again, I (like most of everyone else) already penciled DeCastro in at right guard.

What about Max Starks?

What about him? We've speculated often about RB Rashard Mendenhall not making it back in time for training camp and probably not for the beginning part of the season. NT Casey Hampton as well. Starks falls between the two of them in terms of weight and age, and has the same injury. Certainly, less likely things have happened, but the difference is Hampton and Mendenhall are currently under contract. The Steelers don't have a ton of cap room, and cutting Scott doesn't save them any. Bringing Starks in to back up both tackle positions seems unlikely, at least for the earlier part of the year.

If Scott shows he's unable to handle a starting job, should he be thrust into one at some point, or has a poor training camp, then it's a different story. For now, the better option is to let Starks rehab and let Scott and Adams duke it out on their own.

They'll have Starks' number handy though, just in case.

Have we forgotten Colon's injury history?

If Colon has another set-back, it appears the job would be Doug Legursky's to lose. He won over offensive line coach Sean Kugler last season, and had earned time when Chris Kemoeatu was both injured and a healthy scratch.

Obviously, we're pulling for Colon, but we pulled for him last year, too. Injuries happen, and you don't really want to see anyone get hurt (I don't, at least, and judging from the comments yesterday, many won't agree with me). But that's the big X-factor here. All of this is for naught if something else happens to him.

Going into OTAs, though, the spotlight will be on Colon and his long-whispered move to the inside.

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