by JJ Cooper
The Steelers have managed to survive multiple injuries this year, but they have reached the end of the line: if one more offensive lineman gets hurt, the already awful unit will likely fall apart.
When Darnell Stapleton went down with a knee injury in the second half of the Chargers game, Trai Essex, an okay pass blocker and pretty poor run-blocking left tackle, came in to replace him. Stapleton was already playing as the replacement for the injured Kendall Simmons, while Max Starks is playing left tackle in place of the injured Marvel Smith.
Thankfully, Stapleton was able to return to the game, but when he was out, it pointed out just how thin the Steelers now are along the line. Essex is now the primary backup at all five offensive line positions -- if Justin Hartwig goes down, Stapleton would slide to center and Essex would replace him. If Willie Colon went down, Max Starks would slide to right tackle and Essex would play left tackle, and Essex would come in and play either guard spot.