It wouldn’t be a normal week for the Steelers unless there was some shuffling along the offensive line.
The latest change will apparently come at left guard with Chris Kemoeatu likely to return to the starting lineup in Cleveland.
Trai Essex has started the last two games at left guard. They were the two contests that, not coincidentally, followed Kemoeatu’s dubious hat trick against the Browns on Dec. 8.
But Essex moved to center last Saturday because of a shoulder injury to Doug Legursky, and Kemoeatu played most of the way at left guard.
Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians praised Kemoeatu’s play against St. Louis, saying, “He looks healthy again.”
Practicality is also a major reason why the Steelers are likely to go with Kemoeatu over Essex this week at left guard. With Legursky out because of a shoulder injury and Maurkice Pouncey coming off an ankle injury the Steelers are still in a very precarious situation at center.
They were so thin after Essex moved over from left guard last Saturday that a one-armed Legursky was their emergency center had something happened to Essex.
They can’t afford for Essex to get hurt this week, especially since there are no guarantees that Pouncey will make it through the entire game.
Essex received the highest praise from Mike Tomlin for the job he did while filling in at center last Saturday, and his versatility again works against him.
But the prudent play in Cleveland is to start Kemoeatu at left guard and save Essex as Pouncey insurance.
– Scott Brown