It seems obvious the Steelers are looking to keep Ramon Foster on the field.
Foster spent 2011 playing right guard, and auditioned for left guard during training camp. He's bounced around the interior line in his previous three seasons in the NFL. After a spot-start at left guard in Pittsburgh's first preseason game Aug. 9, filling in for injured Willie Colon, Foster will now get work at right tackle, as Marcus Gilbert moves to left tackle to replace injured Mike Adams.
Some things don't change for Pittsburgh's oft-injured offensive line. It has forced offensive line coach Sean Kugler to be more creative in his evaluation, and keeping multi-faceted players like Foster around is proof of that.
Like Trai Essex before him, Foster looks to establish himself as the up-and-coming Swiss Army Knife of the offensive line. A jack of all trades, perhaps a master of none, but a critical component to a team's ability to weather the injury storm.
Even if Adams didn't have a sprained MCL in his knee, the level of play he showcased in that 24-23 loss at Philadelphia showed the Steelers should at least kick the tires of the Gilbert-at-Left-Tackle car, the one that looked to be their option for 2012 before Adams was drafted in the second round.
Adams was slow off the snap, displayed poor footwork and was torched often in the 19 snaps he got. Moving Gilbert to left tackle now, as the team waits for likely Week 1 starter Max Starks to be healthy enough to get on the field, could be a solid Band-Aid solution for the remainder of the preseason.
Foster's ability to play right tackle remains to be seen. Gilbert wasn't all that impressive in the first game either, but he's said he'd rather play left tackle, one season after starting 14 games on the right side.
The key here is pass protection. Foster (6-foot-6, 325 pounds) has the size of a tackle, and did a decent enough job pass-blocking at guard to make one think maybe he'd work out better on the edge. The likely return of Colon to left guard - a position he hasn't played as a pro, either - gives the Steelers a look at what will almost certainly be their starting interior line. Colon will join C Maurkice Pouncey and RG David DeCastro.
The Steelers ran nearly two dozen combinations of five offensive linemen on the field in 2011, and it appears that trend will continue this preseason.
Perhaps it's the right time to be a little creative.