Stop Me If You've Seen It Before

Steelers' O-line (Jason Bridge/USA TODAY Sports)

Could the same old movie about the offensive line end in another disappointing highlight film? Mike Prisuta wonders. And worries.

"Oh, the movie never ends. It goes on and on and on and on ..."

I'm pretty sure Journey didn't have St. Vincent College in mind when adding that repeating lyric to its now-iconic "Don't Stop Believin'" in 1981. Then again, Journey probably wasn't thinking about the final scene of "The Sopranos" right about then, either.

But if the football shoe fits ...

It's been a movie out here at St. Vincent this summer, and that movie is "Groundhog Day."

It'll be three weeks to the day tomorrow since the Steelers checked in and not much has changed.

The rookies have been impressive, as anticipated just after the draft.

The veterans have been resolute, determined to make amends for last season's 8-8 disaster, as many had been since the immediate aftermath of win No. 8 in last season's season finale against Cleveland.

And the offensive line remains the elephant on campus.

What we saw against the New York Football Giants in the preseason opener at Heinz Field was what we've seen in Latrobe.

As new offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. so diplomatically assessed it: "The first group, I felt like we pretty much handled the line of scrimmage for the most part. And the second group, we didn't handle the line of scrimmage.

"That's something that those young guys really have to work on."

That's more or less how the practices have played out day after day after day after day.

Training camp has been reminiscent of "We Are Marshall" as well as "Groundhog Day" in that regard.

There's a scene in "We Are Marshall" where an assistant coach characterizes what's happening during Marshall's first preseason camp after the plane crash thusly:

"Coach, I think we have a problem with the offensive line."

The response from head coach Jack Lengyel (Matthew McConaughey) drips with apprehension.

"I don't think it's because the defensive line is so outstanding."

Al Woods has been a sensation and Brian Arnfelt a surprise at St. Vincent. But beyond those two I'm pretty sure what's been happening to the backup offensive line hasn't been because the backup defensive line is so outstanding.

The Steelers' response has been to continue moving pieces around while groping for second- and third-team offensive line solutions.

Joe Long, who never got onto the field in the preseason opener against the New York Football Giants, got work at both tackle spots the past couple of days. So did D'Anthony Batiste. John Malecki has played center and guard. Kelvin Beachum has played center and tackle. Guy Whimper (not one of Bicknell Jr.'s aforementioned "young guys" but a guy with seemingly a lot to work on, as well) and Mike Golic Jr. have played guard and tackle in camp.

It's all a little too familiar for comfort. Remember how well moving Maurkice Pouncey to guard so Doug Legursky could play center worked out?

"Oh, the movie never ends. It goes on and on and on and on …"

The attempt to make such questionable depth position-flexible brings to mind still another cinematic classic. That would be "Necessary Roughness," the compelling saga of the Texas State Fightin' Armadillos' attempt to field a team ravaged by scandal and suspension with, among other things, a chick kicker (Kathy Ireland) and a 34-year-old quarterback (Scott Bakula).

At one point during an indoor practice in a gym, the backup quarterback fires a wildly inaccurate throw that winds up caroming off the basketball backboard.

The response of Robert Loggia's Coach Wally Rig, watching from above the court, was something along the lines of, "Great, he sucks at two sports."

Two sports, two spots, you get the idea.

And while "sucks" is clearly too strong an adjective to critique what the Steelers have to work with as potential backups up front, "viable options" would be just as inaccurate.

As we speak, Beachum is an Army of One in that regard.

Maybe that'll change shortly after the league-wide cut to 53.

But what if it doesn't?

After three weeks at St. Vincent, the Steelers remain a team that's just a couple of offensive line injuries away from another really disappointing highlight film.

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