Next men up

Video review is a prerequisite in the NFL as a means of detecting what an upcoming opponent likes to do and when.

But in preparation for Sunday's hosting of Philadelphia at Heinz Field, the Steelers are also taking into consideration what the Eagles may be capable of doing given their less-than-advantageous circumstances.

Philadelphia started its fourth different offensive line combination in four games in Sunday night's 25-20 victory at San Francisco.

The Eagles were also without veteran wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery against the 49ers.

That's a combined 1,077 NFL receptions and 100 touchdown catches quarterback Carson Wentz didn't have available.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can appreciate as well as anyone what an unenviable position Wentz has been in while trying to work around a lack of continuity along the offensive line and a lack of experience at wide receiver.

Roethlisberger also knows how he'd attempt to navigate such challenges.

"Try and make the offense as simple as you can, make guys as comfortable as you can because, obviously, it's guys that aren't used to playing together," Roethlisberger offered. "Try and run the ball and get the ball out of your hands (quickly)."

The Eagles started an offensive line at San Francisco comprised by, from left to right, tackle Jordan Mailata, guard Matt Pryor, center Jason Kelce, guard Nate Herbig, and tackle Lane Johnson.

Kelce and Johnson are former first-team AP All-Pros, but Herbig was making his fourth career start, Pryor his second and Mailata his first. And Johnson only played 60 percent of the offensive snaps due to an ankle injury and had to share right tackle with rookie Jack Driscoll (he started the opener at Washington but hasn't started since).

Offensive tackle Jason Peters (a two-time, first-team AP All-Pro), offensive tackle Andre Dillard (a first-round pick in 2019) and guard Isaac Seumalo opened this week's preparation for the Steelers on the Reserve/Injured list.

Guard Brandon Brooks, another carry-over, along with Seumalo, from Philadelphia's Super Bowl-winning team in 2017, is on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list.

Mailata, a 6-foot-8, 346-pound Australian, is a former rugby player and a product of the NFL's International Player Pathway program.

"Mailata, we actually brought him in on a visit here a while ago," Steelers defensive tackle and defensive captain Cam Heyward remembered. "To think that now he's starting, I think it's his second game? It should be fun. They've had to shuffle their lines and make proper adjustments, that's the name of the game.

"We think when you have to replace somebody there's blood in the water and we try to feast on that but they're going to play accordingly. They're going to get the ball out quick. They're going to run the ball. They're going to do a lot of screens. When we get our chances we have to hit home, that's the only way we're going to have success. We gotta make them one-dimensional. If we do that, we can have a fun day."

Not much has been sunny in Philadelphia to date. But the 1-2-1 record the Eagles have managed is good enough to lead the NFC East Division and includes a two-game unbeaten streak (the win in San Francisco was preceded by a 23-23 tie against Cincinnati).

The Eagles will also be bringing the NFL's No. 1 sack attack with them on their trip across the Commonwealth (17 in four games).

"There's a lot of season left," head coach Doug Pederson noted. "The first quarter, as they say, is behind us. Good to really get that win on the road, tough place to play out in San Francisco.

"We have a tough stretch of games coming up, as well, but our guys are excited, they're eager."

Even as Philadelphia's limitations have contributed to a perceived degree of predictability.