Saturday, May 25, 2013

"Athletic" Offensive Line 'United' To Run Ball And Protect Ben Roethlisberger

by Jayden and Jason

"...Ben Roethlisberger...has only played 16 games one time in his entire nine year career. He's missed eight games in the last three years. It's hard to win without your franchise quarterback..." - ESPN's Teddy Bruschi

What Bruschi said in response to Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark's comments regarding his former quarterback is just what the coaches are thinking as well. This offseason, new offensive line coach Jack Bicknell, jr. said that the "foundation" of a successful team and season definitely begins with the offensive line, and, more pointedly, players "athletic enough and be able to move."

Those athletic players have two basic jobs: run the ball and, as Bruschi said, "protect the franchise." More on the latter in a moment.

Anymore, teams are getting away from the feature running back and moving more towards two and three-headed monsters who provide a certain level of output at the position. Having Jerome Bettis for almost a decade is great if you can get it, but even The Bus had an effective-if-not-powerful offensive line. And to get back to a powerful running game requires an "athletic" group with "unity" and an edge to their practices starting now.

"For sure,'' current left tackle Marcus Gilbert said. "I think that's what the coaches envision us having -- a highly drafted, athletic group of guys. I think the guys we have now, we're working toward good unity and everything will sort out itself."

Gilbert looks at present to be the man who will be the one to protect Big Ben's blind side. But as head coach Mike Tomlin points out, that isn't set in stone yet.

"One of the things that we learned through the trials of the 2012 season is that both of those young men are capable of playing both spots," [Mike] Tomlin said last month. "We will use the spring and the summer to sort out where we play those two at." -

But what may ultimately be even more important is the quarterback and the protecting of the left side, which Gilbert said "is more important, the quarterback has to have trust in you."

It is a sentiment that Bruschi echoed when, continuing from earlier, he said that quarterbacks are "of the utmost importance and they need to stay alive, and stay healthy, and be there through the entire regular season, and the entire postseason."

Staying healthy throughout it all, though, starts with a healthy offensive line. A point which left guard Ramon Foster understands all too well.

“Just pray that everybody stays healthy,” he said, before adding: “We’ve got guys in our clip right now. Kelvin Beachum is ready. John Malecki played in games last year. Guy Whimper has played on a Super Bowl team. We’ve got some guys. We’ve got some guys who’ve got to mature really fast. If worse comes to worse, I believe guys will be ready.” -

He does admit, however, that, considering that those five men need to be as close knit as possible, they are striving for that much-needed "chemistry."

“We’ve been tight this whole off-season. We’ve been here the entire time. I think our chemistry is there. It’s just about putting it on the field.”

There's no way to tell as of yet whether those words from the different linemen will translate onto the field, but this young and athletic group looks to be on its way to bringing back a forward-moving running back and an upright quarterback to the Steel City.


TIDBITS: Per Jim Wexell's Twitter (@jimwexell) account: "[Kelvin] Beachum working at Center and [Al] Woods working at NT (for 2nd year) only serves to expand versatility, not a slight of [John] Malecki and/or [Alameda] Ta'amu."

"More interesting is amount of practice time seen by undrafted rookie DE Brian Arnfelt." (Northwestern)

"@jimwexell: Cap expert @IanWhetstone says loss of [Max] Starks should equal 5th-round compensation. [Mike] Wallace whole 'nother deal."
(Brackets ours)


Steelers have best punter of last decade, Brian Moorman, on their roster and did not even have to use a 4th-round pick for him: