To say the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line has injuries is an understatement. After starting left guard Ramon Fsoster was injured in Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles with a chest injury, B.J. Finney replaced him in the Week 4 game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Not a major issue, and one which almost all NFL teams deal with on a weekly basis. When Marcus Gilbert left the Kansas City game, Ryan Harris filled in and finished the game.
Harris has starting experience, and was the starting left tackle for the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos in 2015. However, after the game, Mike Tomlin revealed Harris suffered a hematoma on his leg, putting his availability in question for the Week 5 game against the New York Jets in jeopardy.
So, if Harris isn't able to play, who would be the starting right tackle against the formidable Jets defense?
One of the options, which was stated by Mike Tomlin in his weekly press conference, is Chris Hubbard. Hubbard is a very versatile lineman, but is a natural guard. He played tackle in the preseason, and the results weren't good. The Steelers clearly feel Hubbard isn't the best candidate for the job either, and have had All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey taking practice reps at right tackle, just in case.
Pouncey told Mark Kaboly of DKPittsburghSports, "I am going to play it again today, so we'll see,"
"(I am going to get) some reps at practice. Whatever the coach needs, whatever the teams needs ... the guys on this team are willing and capable of doing everything they are asked. Like I said, the next man up has to play just as good or as better."
This isn't the first time an All-Pro Steelers lineman has moved positions to help the team. Future Hall of Fame guard Alan Faneca played some tackle on obvious passing situations under Bill Cowher, but this would be a first for Pouncey.
The Steelers have options if Pouncey does move to tackle. B.J. Finney would likely move to center, Hubbard would become the starting left guard and Pouncey moving to right tackle.
This seems to be an emergency situation, and the hope remains Harris will be healthy enough to play this Sunday, but if not the Steelers will have to alter their offensive game plan and put plenty of tight end help over the right tackle to keep Ben Roethlisberger upright, healthy and to have enough time to move the ball down the field.
With the Steelers first reported practice being Wednesday, the injury report will likely dictate how the Steelers will approach this situation in Week 5.