The Steelers had to juggle their offensive line against the Bengals after getting hit by a rash of in-game injuries and things haven’t eased up as they prepare to take on the New England Patriots on Sunday night.
“Max has been my blind side for a while now,” said quarterback
Starks started seven games for the Steelers this season at left tackle, missing the Tennessee game with an ankle injury. He started all 16 games for the black and gold in 2009.
“It’s a huge loss,” said guard
With Starks out it will be up to tackle
“The challenge for me is to continue to mesh with the rest of the offensive line,” said Scott. “When it comes to assignments I have that down pat. I just want to continue to play at the high level of the Steelers offensive line. I am going to put an emphasis at playing at a high level and keep the ship moving.”
Starks is the second tackle the Steelers have lost this season.
“Flozell has worked at right tackle exclusively since he has been here and has done a nice job of it,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “We are going to continue to do that. We brought Jonathan Scott in with the understanding that he is a swing tackle and he is capable. Flozell is going to play right and Jonathan is going to play left.”
Scott started the Tennessee game when Starks was out, and has also played in spot roles at guard and tackle.
“I hope it’s the characteristics that can describe any backup on our team, that they have position flexibility and they are willing and able to answer the bell when called upon, regardless of position,” said Tomlin of Scott’s flexibility. “He has had that mentality since he has been here. He has earned this opportunity and I am looking forward to him taking advantage of it.”
The Steelers also activated rookie tackle
“He is a young guy we are excited about,” said Tomlin. “He has gotten himself healthy and represented himself well over the last several weeks. We are excited about moving forward with him.
“He has done a nice job of learning assignments, even though he hadn’t gotten direct reps. Out here on the practice field the last three weeks he has been pretty competitive and a detailed worker. The things we are capable of evaluating he has looked good and we like what we’ve seen, but he hasn’t played a bunch of football and we acknowledge and understand that.”
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Also on the injury front on the offensive line Kemoeatu missed practice after injuring both his knee and ankle against the Bengals. Coach Tomlin said that he is “day to day at this point. I am not willing to rule this week out.”
Kemoeatu is also hopeful and hopes to practice by the end of the week, acknowledging that it’s important he get work alongside Jonathan Scott.
“I don’t think it’s that bad,” said Kemoeatu. “The MRI films looked pretty good. I’ll take it day by day and see how it feels on Friday.
“It would be good if I got in there and got a feel for it. Max is out and you have to get a feel for it by game time whoever is next to me. We don’t know until Friday. Right now it still kind of hurts.”