Thursday, Jan 18, 2018
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Tomlin pleased with offensive line

Mish-mashed unit playing well


The Steelers' Mike Tomlin may have the same offensive line versus Indianapolis Sunday that started against Seattle.


PITTSBURGH -- The latest version of a revolving-door offensive line satisfied Steelers coach Mike Tomlin Sunday. Good thing, too, as it's highly possible each will start again this week.

Tomlin said yesterday that starting left guard Chris Kemoeatu will be evaluated throughout the week to see if he can practice at full speed after he missed the 24-0 win over Seattle with a knee injury.

Tomlin praised the play of fill-in Ramon Foster as well as that of rookie Marcus Gilbert, who had his first NFL start at right tackle after Willie Colon was placed on injured reserve.

Tomlin also characterized defensive end Brett Keisel as "questionable at best" for Sunday night's game at Indianapolis (0-2) after he sustained a knee sprain against Seattle.

Ziggy Hood would start at end if Keisel cannot play for the Steelers (1-1).

"Not only just Ziggy, we have a great deal of confidence in all our guys," Tomlin said of what has become a deep defensive line. "They're position flexible. [Chris Hoke] is position flexible, Steve McLendon is position flexible, and of course [first-round pick] Cameron Heyward hasn't disappointed us with his efforts thus far."

Neither cornerback Bryant McFadden nor receiver Jerricho Cotchery -- each out with a hamstring ailment -- is assured of being able to practice this week. So, their status for the Colts is in the air, as well.

Positive injury news from Tomlin came in the form of no news at all.

The condition of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was not addressed yesterday, two days after he briefly left the game during the first half after being the subject of a late hit to the knee by Seattle's Raheem Brock.

The team might feel more secure in its franchise quarterback's health if it had its offensive line at full health. Kemoeatu has now missed at least one game during each of the past three seasons.

"We will see where practice takes us," Tomlin said. "His availability will be predicated on his level of performance this week in practice."

Although he was disturbed by the fact Pittsburgh gained only 30 rushing yards on 16 carries in the second half Sunday -- offering poor conditioning as a possible explanation -- Tomlin stood by the play of Foster and Gilbert.

"I thought Ramon did some nice things," Tomlin said. "I liked his effort and his finish. His play demeanor, I think, is what we desire. Marcus Gilbert did some nice things as well.

"The reality is that we have to play 60 minutes of football in a manner in which we desire. I don't think we ran the ball as effectively as you'd like to in the second half. Our run-game efficiency wasn't acceptable. But to the question when you talk about Ramon Foster and Marcus Gilbert, their performances were above the line."

Tomlin lauded the play of cornerback Ike Taylor, an effort much welcomed with the Steelers secondary otherwise depleted and Taylor coming off a broken thumb in the preseason opener.

William Gay moved into the lineup with McFadden out, and third-year cornerback Keenan Lewis saw as much action against the Seahawks as he has in his career.

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