Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday Morning Miscellany -- Jacksonville Jaguars Edition

No major surprises on the Steelers' injury report this morning. We proceed apace again with two-thirds of the starting defensive line out (Aaron Smith and Casey Hampton), and 40 percent of the starting offensive line out (Chris Kemoeatu and Marcus Gilbert).

Just going by the team's depth chart, it's hard to say which players the coaches really consider to be their "starters" on the offensive and defensive lines.

It's Week Six, and the Steelers have started a different offensive line every game this season. We suspect  some of the changes may last for a while, even after the ostensible starters get healthy again.

The offensive line performed well last Sunday vs. Tennessee, even as in-game injuries forced changes during the game. The arrival of Max Starks fortifies left tackle, Doug Legursky played well at left guard, Maurkice Pouncey is set at center, Ramon Foster looked solid at right guard, and Jonathan Scott looks much more comfortable at right tackle than left tackle. The coaches may want to keep this configuration together after Kemoeatu and Gilbert get healthy, if only for continuity and stability.

Tough-guy Steeler Chuck Hinton, DT, circa 1967
The defensive line is another matter. At the very least, it is beginning to appear there will be more rotational substitutions on the defensive line, where Chris Hoke, Cameron Heyward, Ziggy Hood and Steve McClendon should see more playing time.

Ditto the running back position, where many NFL teams substitute liberally. Rashard Mendenhall may start but get less of a workload in favor of Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and Mewelde Moore when he gets fully healthy.

The left cornerback position is interesting. The depth chart still lists Bryant McFadden as the starter, but he started only the season opener in Baltimore. Since then, William Gay and Keenan Lewis have shared playing time, and that appears certain to continue. Both have played well. Gay is the more senior veteran, but it is time to determine whether Lewis can play for keeps.

Over at, writer John Oehsner lists 10 reasons the Jags could win tomorrow's game. Try not to laugh. The Jaguars are 3-0 at Heinz Field.