Yet another injury thins offensive line

Practice injury to B.J. Finney makes Chris Hubbard probable starter at left guard.

PITTSBURGH -- They used to call him "Mother" Hubbard.

And then Chris Hubbard became a father.

On Thursday they were calling him the first-team left guard for the Pittsburgh Steelers after a pair of injuries caused the third-year pro to become the likely Next Man Up for Sunday night's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

"Today I had to step up," said Hubbard. "You never know how this business goes, man. You've just always got to be prepared."

B.J. Finney -- who had been promoted to LG1 following Ramon Foster's bruised sternum -- got a finger caught in a facemask early in Thursday's practice. The injury was diagnosed as a "double dislocation" and the prognosis for recovery is wide: Either Finney returns to practice Friday or he's out four-to-six weeks.

The Steelers were unsure late Thursday afternoon, but since Finney is a first-year player without a start on his resume, his chances of starting aren't good after missing one practice already. That makes Hubbard the likely starter.

"I'm rooting for both of those guys," said Foster. "It's a big game. It's an AFC game, a Sunday night game. They get to say their school, their university, all of that stuff goes into it. But it's their play that's going to determine the outcome for us."

Foster tried to play last week with his injury but had to leave late in the first half and was replaced by Finney.

"Probably should've just set back," Foster said. "I pushed it a little bit."

The recovery period?

"No big deal, just time," he said.

Finney practiced Wednesday, and then Hubbard, father of 10-day-old Creed Hubbard, took over the position Thursday.

Hubbard has 10 games under his belt, all as a reserve. He spent 2013 on the practice squad, played in one game in 2014, seven games last season and then the two playoff games last January. The 25-year-old and his wife had their first child last Tuesday and he claims to still have that first-time fatherly glow.

"Aw, yeah, man. That's the fire behind me," he said. "That's my motivation."

So is Dontari Poe, the 346-pound nose tackle for the Chiefs.

"It is what it is," Hubbard said of the king-sized Poe. "You've got to be prepared."

The guy lining up to Hubbard's left says Hubbard will be prepared.

"He knows the offense," said Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva. "He's been in the system longer than I have, so he knows how to execute all the plays. He's very athletic, he's played football for a very long time, he's played at this position for a very long time as well, so I think he's going to do just fine. He's got a lot more going on than I did when I was making my first start last year."

Villanueva made his first start against the Chiefs last Oct. 25 at Arrowhead Stadium. He allowed Tamba Hali two sacks and said after reviewing the film, "My sets were horrible. I was terrible. I was too slow off the ball. There are a lot of things that I obviously noticed that I've changed since last year."

Villanueva will see Hali again, along with some Dee Ford and backup OLB Frank Zombo. A little further inside will be DE Allen Bailey and then Poe at the nose. Those are the guys who'll concern Hubbard.

"I have no doubt in my mind that he's going to go out there and execute and do well," Villanueva said.

NOTES -- The Steelers released running back Daryl Richardson to make room for Le'Veon Bell. Richardson played in all three games this season and carried twice for seven yards. He's eligible for the practice squad if he clears waivers. ... Sitting out Thursday's practice along with Foster and Finney were S Sean Davis (back), S Robert Golden (hamstring), WR Eli Rogers (toe), ILB Ryan Shazier (knee) and C-G Cody Wallace (knee). Fullback Rosie Nix (back) was limited in his participation.


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