Young Steelers' offensive line growing up fast
By Alan Robinson
Published: Thursday, May 30, 2013, 11:00 p.m.
Steelers wide receivers called themselves Young Money the last couple of seasons. But as far as age goes, they have nothing on the franchise's offensive line.
Unless there are injuries or unanticipated lineup changes between now and the Sept. 10 opener against the Titans, the Steelers won't have fielded an offensive line this inexperienced since 1959.
That's when Dwight Eisenhower was serving out his second term as president and Buddy Parker fielded the second of two straight winning record teams as Steelers coach — the first time the Steelers had done that in 16 years.
For now, the current unit is left tackle Marcus Gilbert (25, two years of experience), left guard Ramon Foster (27, four years), center Maurkice Pouncey (24, three years), right guard David DeCastro (23, one year) and right tackle Mike Adams (23, one year). Pouncey is 23 but has a birthday July 24, right before training camp starts.
The right side of the line — DeCastro and Adams — is inexperienced, with only nine starts between them, six by Adams. DeCastro and Adams were out with injuries for long stretches of their rookie seasons a year ago.
The top backup, Kelvin Beachum? He'll turn 24 next month and has one season of experience, with five NFL starts. He was a right tackle last season, can play guard and is working at center.
Given his lack of experience, Beachum will fit right in on new offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr.'s unit.
“Change is inevitable. You've got to go with it,” Adams said Thursday after the Steelers concluded the second of four weeks of offseason practices. “I think we're a young group with a lot of potential. And we're working very hard to turn that potential into reality.”
They've just never done it — at least in the Super Bowl era — with a unit possessing so little game experience. And it won't help that tight end Heath Miller is recovering from knee surgery and probably won't be ready to start the season.
Since 1959, when they started a first-year player (Ted Karras), two second-year players (Mike Sandusky and John Nisby) and two fourth-year players (Ed Beatty and Frank Varrichione), the Steelers have had at least one five-year veteran on the starting line during every season.
Some of those regulars, such as Mike Webster, Dermontti Dawson, Tunch Ilkin and Alan Faneca, held their jobs for a decade or close to it.
But Foster, who re-signed with the Steelers during the offseason, is now the most experienced hand. The line has played only a combined 11 seasons and averages just more than 24 years of age.
That would be the youngest offensive line since the 1957 Steelers averaged 24 years.
Last season, left tackle Max Starks had eight seasons of experience, and left guard Willie Colon had six.
“But we've got a guy in the middle there (Pouncey) who has been to three consecutive Pro Bowls and has been an All-Pro, and we've got a guy, Ramon Foster, who has been here four years,” Adams said. “I think our youth is a good thing.”
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers restructure Brown’s contract to become salary cap compliant
- Keisel might be at end of Steelers career
- Steelers create cap space by re-signing Polamalu, Miller
- Steelers’ Worilds signs transition tag
- Steelers use transition tag on LB Worilds
- 6 players the Steelers will be watching at NFL Combine