Rookie lineman has good timing

News on Chris Scott, updates on the injured and concussed, game reminisces with Maurkice Pouncey, Matt Spaeth and Troy Polamalu.

PITTSBURGH – Mike Tomlin couldn't help but chuckle about Chris Scott's timing after the rookie offensive lineman was activated on the final day he was eligible to remain on the PUP list.

"It just so happens that it was," Tomlin said.

Max Starks underwent an MRI after the game. Had he done so a day later, Scott would've already been on injured reserve himself.

As it is, the 6-4 5/8, 319-pound fifth-round draft pick who started his last 31 games at left tackle for the University of Tennessee replaces Starks on the active roster and will work as the Steelers' backup right tackle.

"He had a lower body injury," Tomlin said. "So with the issues that come with that, in terms of staying in football condition and conditioning himself, he's done a nice job of maintaining his weight and working. He's done a nice job of learning assignments. Out here on the practice field the last three weeks he's been pretty competitive in the detail work. So the things we're capable of evaluating, he's looked good and we like what we see. Of course, he hasn't played a bunch of football. We understand that."

Ramon Foster, the second-year backup left guard, played with Scott at Tennessee.

"He can get the job done," said Foster. "He's a smart player and he fits into the mold of a Pittsburgh Steeler offensive lineman."

In what way?

"He's a mauling guy. He doesn't take anything. We expect a whole lot from him."


After Foster described Scott as "one of the quietest guys you'll ever see," he was told that offensive linemen don't "talk trash" anyway. "Yeah they do," he said. "Talk to Maurkice about that."

Maurkice Pouncey obliged. "I don't just want to go out there, line up, play, and go back to the huddle," he said. "I want him to know I'm out there, &*%#!*."

Pouncey then laughed heartily after his outburst.

Trai Essex, sitting nearby, nodded his head and said, "That's about how it sounds. But usually he doesn't start it. He reacts to it."


With only seven active linemen, and the two reserves already playing center and left guard, Starks gutted out a few series in the second quarter before his neck injury became too painful. The coaching staff then began preparing tight end Matt Spaeth to play tackle.

"I was ready," said Spaeth. "To be honest I wasn't really nervous. I knew what to do. Not that I was going to go out there and do a great job against people that outweigh me by a hundred pounds, but it's not like guys had a high expectation for me either. So I was like ‘Whatever I can do.' I actually was kind of excited to go out there and try it."

How did Spaeth know what to do?

"When you first get here you learn what you do on each play," he said. "As you grow and mature you kind of learn what everybody does. I was fairly confident. Now, I would've been nervous on third down about getting some exotic blitz in pass protection. That's what I was nervous about."

How close did it come to happening?

"The defense was on the field. I started going over stuff and talking about stuff and I was like ‘all right' and getting ready to go. Minutes before the offense was supposed to go out there, Pouncey came out from the locker room. It was pretty close."

Pouncey went back to center for the Steelers' final drive of the half. Doug Legursky moved over to left guard and Jonathan Scott moved over to left tackle.


Missing Wednesday's practice were DE Brett Keisel (hamstring), TE Heath Miller (knee), K Jeff Reed (illness), G Chris Kemoeatu (knee/ankle), and DE Aaron Smith (triceps).

Miller and Reed are expected to return to practice Thursday. Keisel and Kemoeatu are day to day. Smith, of course, is out.

"I'm just happy it's not as bad as it felt and the MRI looked pretty good on it," said Kemoeatu.

Isaac Redman said that both he and fellow running back Mewelde Moore passed their post-practice concussion tests and are "ready to go."


Troy Polamalu was run over at the goal line Monday night by his friend with the Bengals and fellow Samoan, 320-pound Domata Peko, a defensive tackle who was lead-blocking for tailback Cedric Benson.

If you saw the hit, you probably wondered whether Polamalu would get up. But he said it wasn't the hardest he's been hit in the NFL.

"Honestly, no. I didn't even feel it," Polamalu said. "But looking at it I would say that's probably the hardest that I've seen, for sure."

That's not how friends should treat each other.

"Yeah," Polamalu said. "That's what I told him. ‘Uso' is how you say brother and ‘us' is kind of short, so I said, ‘Hey, us, you gonna do that to me?' He said ‘I'm sorry' and then turned around and started celebrating with his teammate."

If that wasn't the hardest hit, what was?

"Sometimes," Polamalu said, "it's the hits you guys don't even see or recognize in the game. Sometimes it looks like you're hit really hard but you don't feel anything. That was one of those hits. My ego felt it."

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