The Steelers will start their fourth offensive line combination of the season on Sunday when they play the Houston Texans at 1 p.m. at Reliant Stadium.
With Jonathan Scott and Doug Legursky ruled out with injuries, Trai Essex will start at left tackle and Ramon Foster at right guard.
"I am excited for it," said Foster. "Any time you get the chance to start against a quality team it always excites you."
Foster started at left guard for Chris Kemoeatu against Seattle, but this will be Essex's first start of the year. After not being signed during training camp, Essex is thrilled about the opportunity.
"I can't ask for anything more," said Essex. "This is a blessing. Considering my situation two months ago, I went from not knowing if I would have an NFL job to starting against a high-caliber defense in the Houston Texans. I am looking forward to that. And on top of that I am playing my natural position of left tackle so it's pretty sweet for me."
Scott and Legursky missed practice all week, allowing Foster and Essex to get all of the reps with the first team in practice, something that will prove beneficial to them come Sunday.
"It's a whole lot better being able to prepare for it," said Foster. "I went from playing at left to going to right this week. It takes a couple of days to get used to it technically, but you just have to get prepared for it."
Essex has worked at guard, center and tackle in practice this season, but the opportunity to focus on one position has been a plus.
"It's just a matter of approaching it from a starter mentality," said Essex. "I know I am going to be in there. As a backup you are not sure when you are going to go in, when your number is going to be called or in my situation what position you are going to play. To have a whole week of preparation at one position, just getting used to the fine-tuning, technique and game plan, it's going to help me out tremendously.
"I don't have to worry about what the right guard or right tackle is doing this week. I am the starting left tackle this week and I am looking forward to it."
Notes: Defensive end Brett Keisel will miss his second straight game with a knee injury. Rookie linebacker Chris Carter (hamstring) is questionable and wide receiver Arnaz Battle (knee), defensive tackle Steve McLendon (illness) and wide receiver Mike Wallace (ribs) are probable.