by JJ Cooper
The Steelers have had to survive lots of injuries this year, but if you're the type who likes to find the silver lining, it's pretty clear that the injuries have helped the Steelers' planning for 2009.
When Kendall Simmons tore his Achilles, second-year guard Darnell Stapleton stepped in and has played better than Simmons. Stapleton will almost assuredly be starting in 2009, whether in Simmons' spot or at Chris Kemoeatu's spot since Kemoeatu will be a free agent. It's hard to believe that Mike Tomlin and the Steelers front office would have been comfortable turning a job over to Stapleton in 2009 without a backup plan if not for Simmons injury, but now, that's not a problem.
Now we're seeing the same thing potentially happening at cornerback. When Bryant McFadden and Deshea Townsend both went down with injuries, the Steelers were forced to turn to second-year corner William Gay as an unexpected starter. Three games into his unexpected role, Gay has been very solid, showing that he's an extremely good tackler despite his small size and he has a decent feel for coverages. While it will be important to get McFadden back into the lineup, Gay has shown he can do the job respectably as an emerhgency fill-in.