By Dale Grdnic
The Pittsburgh Steelers could be without two starting offensive linemen again this week, as left guard Chris Kemoeatu and right tackle Marcus Gilbert are questionable this week going into the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday at 1 p.m. at Heinz Field.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday during his weekly press conference that the makeup of the offensive line depends solely on the unit’s health this week. Gilbert, who re-injured his left shoulder against the Tennessee Titans, would be replaced by Jonathan Scott if he can’t go. Scott took over for him against the Titans and played pretty well.
Kemoeatu has been bothered by a left knee problem all year. He spent training camp on the PUP list and worked his way slowly back in the preseason, but started the season-opener at Baltimore. Kemoeatu missed the next game against Seattle at home, played at Indianapolis and Houston, but sat out the home game with the Titans.
If he can’t play this week, Doug Legursky will start at left guard, and Ramon Foster will work at right guard against the Jaguars. Center Maurkice Pouncey (right knee contusion) was injured in-game against the Titans, but he was able to come back and finish the game. He might be limited early in the week, Tomlin noted, “but we expect him to participate (against the Jaguars).”
Running back Rashard Mendenhall (right hamstring) has continued to progress, along with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (left foot sprain). Tomlin expected Mendenhall to participate this week, and he will remain the Steelers’ featured back if he is healthy. If not, the Steelers will lean on Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer once again.
Running back Mewelde Moore (left high ankle sprain), outside linebacker Jason Worilds (right quad) and nose tackle Casey Hampton (right shoulder) also are questionable this week, while outside linebacker James Harrison (right eye) is out. With Harrison and Worilds likely out this week, Lawrence Timmons will start at right outside linebacker against Jacksonville.
“From what we’ve been told,” Tomlin said, “it’s going to be roughly a month, but everybody is different. And with the way James is wired, we’ll leave a seat open on the bus for him, if you know what I mean.”
Notes: Steelers DE Aaron Smith (right foot sprain) will miss another game and be replaced by Ziggy Hood. … Chris Hoke will start for Hampton. … Rookie CB Cortez Allen (right hamstring) is expected to be ready this week, while CB Bryant McFadden (right hamstring) is getting closer every week.
“But we like what the other guys have done in the interim,” Tomlin said. “We’re talking about William Gay and Keenan Lewis, but such is life in the NFL.
“When those guys step up when they’re given an opportunity and are playing at a high level, we’re not going to fix it if it’s not broken. B-Mac has done a nice job of working while he’s waiting for an opportunity to work his way back into the rotation, and those issues are good to have.”
The Steelers visit the Arizona Cardinals next week.