Harris: Tomlin still searching at right tackle
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Mike Tomlin can’t be serious. He made long-time left tackle Flozell Adams the Steelers’ new savior at right tackle — the same player who’s five years on the wrong side of 30 and is playing right tackle for the first time since the 20th century.
Little wonder that Tomlin said he wanted to see Jonathan Scott receive some meaningful playing time during Saturday night’s second preseason game against the New York Giants.
You remember Jonathan Scott, don’t youâ¢ OK, maybe you don’t.
Scott has bounced around the NFL like a ping-pong ball. He’s now playing for his third team in five seasons. His claim to fame is being joined at the hip with new offensive line coach Sean Kugler, who knows Scott from their time together with the Bills and Lions.
Scott signed a one-year contract in March, as a backup to Willie Colon. That was before Colon wrecked his Achilles and was lost for the season.
Quarterback Byron Leftwich saw his career flash before his eyes last week when Detroit’s Cliff Avril ran around Adams on a speed rush and sacked Leftwich quicker than you can say, “Look out!”
That’s when the light bulb went on, and I realized why the Dallas Cowboys released Adams even though they are still thin at tackle.
But you know what they say: One team’s weakness is another team’s strength.
That is, until Tomlin put the brakes on the Adams experiment and re-opened the competition at right tackle to include Scott. Adams started and was on the field for a total of 20 plays against the Giants, before yielding to Scott.
The best thing that can be said about Adams’ performance last night is that Ben Roethlisberger remained upright. The Giants pressured Roethlisberger, who was making his preseason debut, but he wasn’t under constant duress. Ben didn’t suffer bodily harm, although he did throw a long interception on his second series when the right side of the offensive line caved in.
Colon, who has been upbeat despite his non-playing status, was a fixture at St. Vincent College during camp, always quick with a word of advice or encouragement. Colon spoke briefly with Adams last night between the first and second quarters.
To his credit, Colon hasn’t complained about never receiving a contract-extension offer, or even the courtesy of a phone call from management telling him they weren’t interested in retaining him long-term. Which is funny, or not so funny depending on your point of view, because now everyone is saying Colon was the lynchpin of the offensive line and how the Steelers miss him and need him.
The Steelers are learning the hard way that it’s more difficult to replace Colon than they thought it would be. You can tell because of Tomlin’s insistence on observing Scott at length against the Giants, even after signing Adams when few teams were lining up for his services because of his age and lack of agility.
Scott replaced Adams when Leftwich took over for Roethlisberger midway through the second quarter. How did he doâ¢ It all depends on what the Steelers are looking for. Scott did a decent job protecting his side of the field, particularly on Leftwich’s 68-yard touchdown bomb to Mike Wallace, when Leftwich had all day to throw.
Adams is a superior run blocker to Scott, who is eight years younger and quicker but has far less experience and savvy. When Adams get his hands on a defender, that defender is helpless. The question is whether Adams’ lack of quickness as a pass blocker is a bigger negative than Scott’s lack of experience. The choice belongs to Tomlin, who didn’t see anything last night from Adams and Scott he hasn’t seen before.
Steelers vs. New York Giants 8/21
Pittsbugh Steelers vs. New York Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium Saturday, August 21, 2010.