The Pittsburgh Steelers are now ten practices into their 15 sessions before breaking camp for the Week 2 preseason game at Heinz Field on Saturday, August 17. Since their tenth practice saw the most players sitting out or leaving early, lack of cohesiveness could become an issue in various position groups. And since the Steelers have been accused of slow starts early in the regular season due to many believing too little playing time has been used for the entire starting unit, there is a concern about the amount of time players will miss.
While it has been expected Ben Roethlisberger has been held out of three practices so far in training camp along with other specific activities even when he is participating, the number of offensive linemen who have been given veterans days off has been somewhat surprising. It’s not that these players are being given rest, it’s the rotation of their off days which could be creating a problem. Out of the 10 practices, the Steelers have only had their entire starting offensive line participate in four of them. Of those four, only half were in full pads.
An argument can be made on either side as to if this philosophy of resting offensive linemen is in the best interest of the entire team. As we look at the main reason on either side, we’ll begin with the bad news first.
Lack of Cohesion
With the exception of the battle for the starting right tackle position, the Steelers have an offensive line which has started together since 2015. While it is believed this group can step in at any moment and be prepared to play together, it would be beneficial to have the entire unit participating in practice more often. As much as a quarterback and wide receiver need to be on the same page in order to have a successful completion, the offensive linemen need to know what the other is thinking and they’re blocking responsibilities in order to be successful. It only takes one blown assignment to cause and easy sack or even a turnover. If the Steelers do manage to hold onto the ball, a negative yardage play can be a drive killer. So it is imperative the offensive line can work together as a cohesive unit.
Developing Quality Depth
With the Steelers “next man up” philosophy when it comes to injuries, it is imperative the Steelers back ups are prepared to enter the game at a moments notice. With veterans being rotated on various days as to not all miss the same practice, there has been an increase in playing time for many different offensive linemen. While developing the starting lineup as a unit is key, is also beneficial to get first-team reps with back ups of various positions.
There is definitely a delicate balance when it comes to having the starting unit ready for the 2019 season while giving quality playing time to the players who must be ready to step in at a moments notice. At this point in training camp, it would be safe to say a number of Steelers offensive linemen have received an opportunity to showcase their skills in practice. But have the starters played enough time together? Until the Steelers take the field in Week 1 of the regular season, it will be difficult to judge. Hopefully the Steelers can shake off some minor injuries to at least have all of their offensive line men available to practice if they see fit.
What are your thoughts on the subject? Do the Steelers need to get their starting offensive line more days of practice together? Or as long as individuals are getting work, is it beneficial for the back ups to continue to get a large number of reps? Let us know your opinion in the poll below.
Has the Steelers’ starting offensive line had enough practices together to prepare them for the regular season?
This poll is closed
Yes, they have enough experience already
No, four practices is not enough at this point in training camp
It’s still early, but they better get more days together throughout the rest of the preseason