Scott Given Boot, Not The Boot

Ben Roethlisberger was nearly killed, again, but Jonathan Scott is the Steelers' left tackle for a reason that only Mike Prisuta knows.

Jonathan Scott was in a walking boot on Tuesday on the South Side, but he'll be the left tackle on Sunday in Houston if he's able to play.

If not the Steelers would turn to Trai Essex, which means the guy protecting the $100 million quarterback's blind side would be a guy who didn't even go to training camp with the team.

It won't be Flozell Adams because he can't play left tackle anymore and the Steelers know it.

It won't be Max Starks because it's long past obvious by now that the current coaching staff no longer values Starks.

And it won't be Marcus Gilbert because the Steelers want him to get his NFL feet wet at right tackle before eventually moving him to left tackle, presumably for the long term.

Understand now why Scott is still considered the No. 1 option at the position?

All that Dwight Freeney accomplished at Scott's expense on Sunday night in Indianapolis didn't change Mike Tomlin's appreciation of Scott as that.

"I think I was pretty clear about what Dwight Freeney is capable of even prior to the game," Tomlin said Tuesday. "He's a quality player."

Scott no doubt concurs, as, presumably, would Maurkice Pouncey, Chris Kemoeatu, Doug Legursky, Heath Miller, Mewelde Moore, Isaac Redman and anyone else who attempted to keep Freeney out of Ben Roethlisberger's face at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Scott accomplished that task a number of times, the majority of the time, actually. But when he failed he did so in spectacular fashion.

But even with the protection problems and a running game that refused to consistently produce the Steelers were still able to generate 408 total net yards. They went above that total only four times a season ago. And they would have far exceeded the 23 points posted against the Colts had other players not committed other gaffes that proved every bit as costly as Scott's.

It started with Emmanuel Sanders' drop at the Colts' 8-yard line on the Steelers' first possession.

It continued with Mike Wallace revealing that the "wide receiver-quarterback bond" he shares with Roethlisberger isn't always what it needs to be. Wallace missed a "hot" or an audible or an "optical" (one of those wink-and-nod communications) and kept running down the sideline away from a back-shoulder throw on a third-and-7 from the Indianapolis 40.

Roethlisberger's first fumble, which ended a drive that had reached the Colts' 46, resulted from him holding the ball too long.

And tight end Wesley Saunders bobbled what should have been a completion for a first down at the Indianapolis 16. Although he ultimately made the catch it resulted only in a field-goal attempt after Saunders had to give ground to collect the carom off his hands, and Shaun Suisham ultimately missed the field goal.

The point to all of this isn't to praise Scott, but nor is it time to bury him.

Not yet.

Not after Scott was on the field late for three empty-set snaps that produced gains of 6, 22 and 11 yards -- three critical plays on what turned out to be the drive for the game-winning field goal and three plays on which Freeney and his pocket-crashing partner, Robert Mathis, weren't a factor.

Ultimately, Scott's performance against the Colts was below the line but Tomlin isn't interpreting it as defining.

The expectation is for more than we've seen.

The same can and should be said for a number of Steelers.


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