Simmons out with frostbite-like burn
The guy who could potentially be the most affected by the Steelers' changing of the guard appeared to be the least concerned Friday upon learning that Chris Kemoeatu would replace Kendall Simmons on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.
"He'll do fine," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said of Kemoeatu, a 6-foot-3, 344-pound second-year pro who has yet to appear in an NFL game.
"I told him, 'Go do what you do, I've got all the confidence in the world in you.'"
Simmons had been listed as probable on the Steelers' injury report all week with a foot injury, but missed his third consecutive practice yesterday.
"Chris has it," Simmons said of the starting assignment at right guard following yesterday's workout.
Simmons' problem is a burn he said resembles frostbite that he suffered while treating his foot with a cold pack while watching "Monday Night Football."
"I don't even call it an injury," Simmons said of his condition. "It's more of a freak accident.
"It's disappointing any time you can't play. I'll help Chris as much as possible."
The Steelers downgraded Simmons on their official injury report yesterday but only from probable to doubtful.
Kemoeatu was inactive for 15 games as a rookie and dressed but did not play Dec. 4 against Cincinnati.
He has been inactive for the Steelers' first four games this season.
"I'm pretty excited," Kemoeatu said. "Whether I'm ready or not ready, I've gotta step up."
Simmons expressed confidence in Kemoeatu's ability to handle the assignment, provided the former sixth-round pick can avoid a natural tendency toward over-aggressiveness that Simmons said it took him a couple of years to control.
"He's just one of those guys, you put him in the right position, you know he's going to maul the guy in front of him," Simmons said. "I told him 'Take your time and take your kill shots when you get a chance.'"
Kemoeatu said he intended to rely heavily on the veterans around him along the offensive line.
"It's hard if you're a young guy and you're thinking 'kill, kill, kill' all the time instead of playing smart like the older guys do," Kemoeatu said. "I'm in there with guys that have been in it for a long time. They have it down. That will help me out."
Rookie guard Willie Colon joked that because Kemoeatu was starting, he'd have to change his pregame meal from 50 chicken wings to 25 and a side order of carrots.
In addition to Simmons, the Steelers will be without starting right outside linebacker Joey Porter (hamstring) and perhaps right cornerback Deshea Townsend (hamstring).
First-year pro Arnold Harrison will make his first NFL start in replacing Porter.
Townsend's backup at cornerback is second-year pro Bryant McFadden, who made his only start last season in a five-defensive backs set Dec. 4 against Cincinnati.