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mesaSteeler
11-13-2010, 06:46 AM
On the Steelers: Fill-ins on offense know the ropes
Saturday, November 13, 2010
By Michael Sanserino, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10317/1102973-66.stm

Two different faces will anchor the left side of the Steelers' offensive line Sunday night. But it won't be the blind leading the blind side.

Left tackle Jonathan Scott and left guard Ramon Foster have a lot of experience at the positions they will play against New England.

Scott will start in place of Max Starks, who was placed on injured reserve this week after hurting his neck Monday in the Steelers' 27-21 victory against Cincinnati. Foster will start in place of Chris Kemoeatu, who sprained his knee Monday and did not practice this week.

Scott, an offseason free-agent acquisition from Buffalo, is a four-year veteran who has started 15 games in his career -- eight last season for the Bills.

"He's been getting snaps all along at left and right tackle, and he's played games at both spots," offensive line coach Sean Kugler said. "He's not just being thrown in there."

Kugler joined the Steelers staff in January after three years in Buffalo, where he coached Scott since December 2008. Both said that familiarity with one another has helped them work together this season.

"Anytime you've been with somebody and understand them, it helps," Kugler said. "But Jonathan has earned his spot on this team, and this is his opportunity. I'm sure he'll take full advantage of it."

Scott started in place of Starks when the Steelers played Tennessee in the second week of the season after Starks injured his ankle. He said that experience will help him as he replaces Starks again.

"I think there would be more pressure if I didn't have a clue what to do," Scott said. "That's not the case. You only put pressure on yourself when you feel there is pressure."

Scott said blocking for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger reminds him of his college days at Texas when he protected Vince Young. Roethlisberger is a quarterback who can extend plays, Scott said.

"Vince was the same kind of guy. When he buys time, he's looking for the big play. When he goes for the big play, big results happen. It's going to challenge me to fight harder in the pocket," he said.

Foster was signed in 2009 as an undrafted free agent from the University of Tennessee and started four games in Kemoeatu's place last season. Foster believes that starting experience has made him a better player and will help him adjust to his starting role Sunday because "it's not shell shock" when he is put into games, he said.

Communication between Foster and Scott is key, Foster said, adding that it should come easy to a tight-knit group of linemen who spend a lot of time together outside of team activities.

Foster and Scott will be challenged by what Foster described as a "strong" and "disciplined" Patriots defensive front, led by 6-foot-2, 325-pound nose tackle Vince Wilfork. Foster said the Patriots' linebacking corps is "young and fast," buoyed by Jerod Mayo, who leads the NFL with 96 tackles, 13 more than any other player.

Despite Scott's and Foster's experience, Kugler expects the Patriots to attack the left side of the offensive line because they will perceive it as a weakness.

"If they do, that's going to be a great challenge for me," Scott said.

Kugler expects Foster and Scott to perform well.

"We don't refer to them as reserve guys," Kugler said. "They're part of a group that can help us win. Whoever steps into that position, we expect them to uphold the standard of play."



NOTES -- Running backs Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman and safety Will Allen sustained concussions Monday but practiced this week. The three must still undergo post-concussion tests, but barring any setbacks, all are expected to play. ... In addition to Kemoeatu, defensive end Brett Kiesel (hamstring) did not practice this week and is not expected to play.
Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1722.


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