When the Pittsburgh Steelers welcome the New York Giants to Heinz Field to kick off the preseason at 7:30 pm ET, keep a close eye on who takes which spots on the offensive line when the starters come off the field - especially Joe Long and Mike Farrell.
Farrell signed with his hometown Steelers as an undrafted free agent in back April of 2013. According to Farrell and Greg Pickel of PennLive.com, Pittsburgh was one of the first teams to call on Farrell following the draft and pushed hardest to get him.
Long joined the Steelers in November of 2012, signed to the practice squad. He began his career as an undrafted free agent in 2012 with the St. Louis Rams. He was not related to then Rams defensive end Chris Long, the son of NFL great Howie Long; but he is the brother of current Rams starting left tackle Jake Long.
Farrell (6-6, 303 pounds) and Long (6-5, 304 pounds) are virtually equal in every quantifiable aspect of their respective skill sets. One will need to establish himself over the other, if either man is going make the Steelers final 53-man roster.
The Steelers are in desperate need for tackle insurance. As they continue to figure out which sides Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert start on, it has become evident they have no plan-B. Kelvin Beachum continues to prove a successful seventh-round 2012 draft pick, but he can only backup one position at a time. As the team entered this off-season, Beachum was supposed to transition to the interior of the offensive line. Now, it looks as if he will have to play all the positions.
Once Beachum has to take the place of an injured tackle, the next projected member of the final roster is John Malecki, who is a guard and makeshift center. Beyond Malecki are nothing but question marks.
The Steelers brought in veterans Guy Whimper and D'Anthony Batiste, but neither have provided much reason for optimism. Pittsburgh also reportedly made a play for Long's brother Jake, but gave up once the bidding war began. The Steelers even began OTAs with rookie Mike Golic Jr. playing tackle, too; but his lack of strength and length have forced him to the interior.
The team will most likely keep eight offensive linemen on their final 53-man roster, possibly even nine. If Long or Farrell want one of those spots on the depth chart, they will need to make their potential overshadow the veteran experience of their competitors during preseason game action.
Join the discussion in BTSC's 'Steelers vs. Giants Open Thread' during the game and share your opinion on how these and other prospects are performing through your eyes.
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