Yesterday I was expressing relief that the Steelers, despite having three linemen go down on Monday night, seemed to escape any serious injury in the trenches. Then hours later, Ed Bouchette drops the bombshell that Max Starks' neck issues are much more serious than Mike Tomlin has been letting on and that Starks is probably/possibly done for the season.
Starks is seeking a second-opinion and is feverishly looking for a way to recover without season-ending surgery, but I'm operating under the assumption that his season is done. Which puts in the Steelers in a bit of a predicament in the trenches going forward. The obvious immediate move is to switch Flozell Adams from the right to the left side, which is where he's played most of his career anyway. Of course, Flozell's weakness is a slightly amplified version of Starks': he's slow and can be beaten around the edge by speed rushers. Not exactly a quality that makes you thrilled about someone protecting the QB's blind side.
That and Flozell has been generally good on run blocking to the right side, which is very the majority of the big plays in the running game have been coming from.
There aren't any particularly enticing candidates and the trade deadline has passed, so the chance for a quick fix through an acquisition seems slim. The team will probably sign someone to bolster depth on the line, but there isn't any chance for success in the near term that doesn't include Jonathan Scott, Tony Hills or Trai Essex stepping up.
It's an ominous way to mark the fourth consecutive season the Steelers have started 6-2. The three times the second half has failed to live up to the first, injuries have been a huge culprit. While Starks isn't anywhere near the talent level of Aaron Smith, but given the lack of depth the Steelers have at the position, it's still significant to lose the guy for the year. Let's just hope his replacement is up to the task and Bruce Arians is forced into coming up with more and better ways to counteract quick pressure from the defense than a goddamn bubble screen.