Bengals take aim at Steelers up front
Cincinnati nose tackle Domata Peko made it clear the Bengals intend on exploiting the perceived weaknesses on the Steelers' offensive line.
Specifically, they are targeting second-year offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum. The versatile Beachum is listed as the starter ahead of newly acquired Fernando Velasco, but Velasco took considerable reps Friday with the first-team offense.
Beachum and Velasco are replacing three-time Pro Bowler Maurkice Pouncey, who was lost for the season with a knee injury in a season-opening loss to Tennessee.
If Beachum starts, he'll be in a tough spot against one of the NFL's best defensive lines. He'll spend plenty of time dueling with Peko and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins in Monday night's AFC North tilt at Paul Brown Stadium.
“Pouncey means a lot to their team,” Peko said. “He's one of the best in the business, so it's a big blow to them.
“We'll have to take advantage of (Beachum's) inexperience at that position. It's always exciting when you go against a young person. We have to lick our chops and get after him.”
The Steelers, who have won 10 of their past 11 games in Cincinnati, will rely on Beachum to help restore order on an offensive line that surrendered five sacks and paved the way for only 32 rushing yards last weekend.
“Losing a center is a hard thing to overcome in the middle of a game,” Bengals center Kyle Cook said. “If he makes the protection calls, that'll be missed. But they'll miss him when things are tough. If he was the emotional leader, it'll be very hard to overcome that.”
Cincinnati defensive end Margus Hunt is familiar with Beachum's work. They were teammates at SMU for two years.
“I know him inside and out. I know his work ethic,” Hunt said. “I know he understands what to do, and he's strong.”
The Steelers have been making adjustments up front for the past several seasons. Now they are adjusting on the fly.
Beachum started at tight end Sunday before moving to center. The Bengals, coming off a disappointing loss in Chicago, figure they can get a big enough push up front to disrupt the Steelers' ground game and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's timing.
“We know they'll try to establish run, then air out with Big Ben,” Atkins said. “We have to make sure we handle them physically.”
The Steelers had one of the least productive run games in the NFL in 2012, but the offensive line punished the Bengals. The Bengals surrendered 167 yards — including a career-high 122 yards by Jonathan Dwyer — in a 24-17 defeat in the teams' first meeting.
The Steelers ran the ball relatively well in losing 13-10 in the rematch. They rushed for 95 yards, while the Bengals generated 14 rushing yards.
Running back Isaac Redman expects the Bengals to challenge the middle of the Steelers' offensive line.
“The Bengals are active up front, and (Atkins) can ruin a day,” Redman said.
However, Atkins said the Bengals aren't taking anything for granted.
“They still have a good line up front,” Atkins said. “For them, it's always the next man up. Even though they lost Pouncey, they'll come out fired up.”
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
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.
- Rossi: Steelers rising fast in mediocre AFC
- Steelers’ Beachum, Williams hurting but could play vs. Bengals
- Steelers offense learning to slam door
- Heyward, swarming defense get best of Chiefs in Steelers’ win
- Steelers-Bengals game to start at 8:30 p.m.
- Steelers notebook: Gay respects ‘anything’ referees call
- Missed chances haunt Chiefs against Steelers
- Chiefs notebook: Trip not intentional, Walker maintains
- Steelers defensive game changer: Fourth-down stop thwarts Chiefs
- Steelers clinch trip to postseason with big victory over Chiefs
- Steelers’ Bell, Chiefs’ Charles elevating running back position in NFL