- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s gay marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
- U.N. rights chief: Flight MH17 downing possible war crime
- Attack on park in Gaza war kills 10, mostly children
- Calif. protesters to block Israel-owned ships at Port of Oakland
- Obama to give Africa $38M, but tells young leaders: Stop ‘making excuses’ for economy
Steelers LT Starks out for season with neck injury
Question of the Day
PITTSBURGH (AP) - This isn’t the news that a suddenly more secure Ben Roethlisberger wanted to hear.
Left tackle Max Starks needs surgery to repair a disc injury in his neck and will miss the rest of the season, leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers without both of their starting offensive tackles. Right tackle Willie Colon, unsigned past this season, was lost for the season when he ruptured his right Achilles’ tendon in June.
“It’s a huge blow, to have him (Starks) out for the rest of the year is devastating,” right guard Trai Essex said Wednesday. “At the same time, this is life in the NFL. Injuries happen and you’re only as good as your backups.”
The Steelers (6-2) are playing many of those backups. Three linemen were injured in the first half alone during the 27-21 victory at Cincinnati on Monday night, a situation that left the personnel so muddled for a time that backup tight end Matt Spaeth was nearly drafted to play tackle. Doug Legursky played both guard and center.
“I was trying to figure out who was at center and who was at guard, guys were just moving around,” Roethlisberger said.
The 28-year-old Starks, a starter on Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl-winning teams during the 2005 and 2008 seasons, was placed on the injured reserve list and can’t return this season. He will be replaced by Jonathan Scott beginning Sunday against New England (6-2).
Scott, a former Bills starter who has been backing up Starks and right tackle Flozell Adams, has started three times previously against the Patriots. Scott was recommended to the Steelers by offensive line coach Sean Kugler, who coached in Buffalo last season.
“I’m definitely going to put an emphasis on playing at a high level and keeping the ship moving,” Scott said.
Starks has started three seasons at left tackle after starting two seasons at right tackle.
While Scott is experienced, Starks‘ injury is a setback to an offensive line that, even without Colon, has done a better job of protecting its franchise quarterback. Roethlisberger, sacked an NFL-high 50 times last season and 249 times since his rookie season in 2004, has been dropped only seven times in his first four games.
Going into this season, Roethlisberger had been sacked 37 times more than any other player since entering the league. By comparison, Tom Brady of the Patriots was sacked 127 fewer times than Roethlisberger from 2004-09 and Peyton Manning of the Colts was sacked 153 fewer times.
Just when Roethlisberger was beginning to stay on his feet more, he now must adjust to a different left tackle.
“Max has been my blind side for a while and you never like to lose a guy like that you have confidence in,” Roethlisberger said. “But I have confidence that J. Scott or whoever else it will be will do just fine protecting my back. I have confidence these guys will keep me upright.”
Roethlisberger compared the wave of injuries to 2008, when the Steelers won the Super Bowl despite losing guard Kendall Simmons and tackle Marvel Smith to early season injuries. Starks moved from right tackle to left tackle to replace Smith.
Without Starks and Colon, the Steelers‘ offensive line depth is greatly depleted; they have drafted no offensive tackles above the fourth round since selecting Essex in 2005. Tony Hills, a former Texas tackle taken on the fourth round in 2008, has played little and often is deactivated on game day.
By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- D.C. police chief orders officers not to arrest legal gun owners carrying weapons in public
- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- CURL: Obama, staffers not even pretending any more
- Family of Marine killed in Afghanistan pushes back against cover-up
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- DeSean Jackson working on offensive cohesiveness with Redskins teammates
- Washington Times strikes content and marketing partnership with Redskins
- D.C. seeks stay in order striking down ban on handguns in public
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq