Friday, August 23, 2013

A change at tackle? It's starting to look that way ...

The Post-Gazette's Ray Fittpialdo reports today that head coach Mike Tomlin has had offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum working exclusively at tackle this week. Let's hope so.

During Monday's slovenly loss at Washington, starting offensive tackles Gilbert and Adams played like Gilbert & Sullivan, or a vaudeville act. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert looked slow, lost and ineffectual, again,  and left tackle Mike Adams appeared as if were stumbling around looking for the parking valet at 3 a.m. on the South Side. Again.

That dubious quality of play got Tomlin's attention, evidently, as he told Fittipaldi that Beachum, at practice, "played tackle last week and he's playing tackle again this week. He'll be given an opportunity to make a case for himself in that regard."

That certainly sounds like Tomlin is considering a switch, and, as if that last statement isn't clear enough, Tomlin added, "We're going to give him an opportunity to ascend."

This, despite the Steelers having invested high draft choices in Gilbert and Adams, both second-rounders. It may be too soon to say they've squandered their chances, but time is running out.

Beachum: Not backing down vs. the Ravens, 2012
Beachum, just 14 months removed from being the fourth of the Steelers' four seventh-round picks in the April 2012 NFL Draft, may be a better option at this point than either Gilbert or Adams.

Make of that what you will, but last season, Beachum showed enough, surprisingly, that even without the "pedigree" of the higher-dtafted Gilbert and Adams, he now merits consideration as a starter at tackle.

He may be the only option.

As columnist Gene Collier noted following Monday's game vs. the Redskins, "Beachum represents perhaps the lone viable alternative for any kind of offensive line shakeup as the regular-season opener moves within two weeks of Sunday. He's built more like a guard or center than a tackle, but it was at tackle where Beachum got his first pro start last December in Baltimore, and the Ravens quickly found he was no day at the Beachum."

And this: "Beachum might not be a better choice at any of those spots, but as a former All-Academic choice who got a master's degree at SMU and gave the commencement speech to the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, I imagine he can keep track of the assignments," Collier wrote.

Let's hope so.  After all, it won't be long before somebody will be lined up at tackle facing one James Harrison of the Cincinnati Bengals.

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