The Steelers headed into the 2016 season with an offensive line that was healthy and finally able to play together as a whole.
Heading into Week 5 of the year, the line has been banged up with injuries to Ramon Foster and now Marcus Gilbert, and that has young guys continuing to step up.
"We have faith and trust and belief in whoever the next man up is," said Ben Roethlisberger. "We've been able to do that and proven that over the years here. Guys prepare themselves to be ready to go even if a guy is healthy. In this sport you are one play away. We will have faith and trust. At the same time we will not be ridiculous. If there are times we need to send help someone's way, we will do it."
Last week against Kansas City it was B.J. Finney who stepped in at guard for Foster, and this week with Gilbert listed as 'highly doubtful' by Coach Mike Tomlin, it's going to be somebody else's turn to step up.
"We've got some veteran guys, plus they have the best offensive line coach in the world in coach (Mike) Munchak," said Roethlisberger. "They'll continue to get better and believe and trust in each other. That is what is special about that room. They are all so close and believe in each other. We never want any of those guys up front to get hurt. They are the cogs in the wheel for us. Unfortunately it's going to happen because of the game we play, but we have other guys that will be ready to step up."
The offensive line will have to be strong this week as they will face a Jets defensive front that has 12 sacks on the season, including seven in an opening week loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
"They are a very, very good defensive front," said Roethlisberger. "A good defense and that is where it starts. They do a lot of things. They contain the quarterback even when it looks like you have an outside lane to run. They are stopping the run which puts you in second and medium to long, third and medium to long. It's definitely a very good defense."
**More from Ben:
On spreading the ball around in the passing game: "**It's about finding the open guy. And then, you realize as you're on the sideline kind of who caught balls and whatever. It's fun that everyone gets involved."
On how unique it is for Le'Veon Bell to be able to do what he does as a receiver: "He's a freaky athlete, so he's able to do those things because of the work he puts in, because of the type of athlete he is, the route runner that he is, and how good his hands are. Which is why it's a big compliment to him, that we were able to move him around so much last week in practice. And I'm sure we'll continue to do that moving forward."On if he feels free to utilize the tight ends this week: "It's the same philosophy we've had every week so far. We don't shy away from any particular guy, whether that's on defense or for us on offense. Just because tight ends are "new" or "haven't been around here," I still have faith and belief and trust in them. Last week, Jesse James was able to make a one-handed catch for a touchdown. That's just awesome. All three of them just continue to grow every week."* *
On what it's like in the room, from a creativity standpoint, when they put stuff together:
"When you've got as many weapons as we feel we have, we can be as creative as we want to be. We just have to be careful not to get so out of the box, out of this world that it can get confusing to ourselves. You want to confuse the defense, but you also want to be able to play fast. And sometimes, just being black or white is better than being grey."
On the next step for Sammie Coates:
"Just continue to grow. To expect the ball every single play and to make every play his fastest play. I keep telling him all the time, 'You're fast enough that no one should be able to know if you're running a deep ball or a stop route.'"
On Darrelle Revis and if he is still an elite cornerback:
"We all get older, but there's so much talk made of him so far this year about, Is he still an elite guy? Can he still cover? Does he need to follow the best receiver? Yes. He is still elite. He is still one of the best who ever played the game at corner. And I have a lot of respect for him. We have a lot of respect for him here, so we'll be looking at him closely to see, No.1, if he's going to be on the field and where he lines up."
On why former practice squad guys can turn into real difference makers here:
"We treat everybody the same. We acknowledge and believe that it's the next man up and everyone should be ready to go. When we're practicing, we're rotating guys in and out, so we all feel comfortable with each other. I just think that we've had a history of, even before I got here, of guys being able to step up and be the next man up. I think when guys come here, they have that belief that if something happens, coaches aren't going to go to the outside world and pull in a guy form a different team. He's going to give a guy here a shot first. I think that makes guys believe and understand in themselves and the system here."