Steelers try to fix O-line

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:46 PM ET

When your offensive line is giving the word sieve a bad name it’s more than time to plug the gaps and the Pittsburgh Steelers hope they did just that when they signed veteran offensive tackle Max Starks and waived tackle Chris Scott. Starks is no stranger to the Steelers as he played seven seasons for them and started 75 games at the tackle position. Starks missed almost half the season last year following November neck surgery. This season he was released by Pittsburgh before the start of training camp and recently had worked out for the Minnesota Vikings. Starks may not be the answer to all the problems that plague the Steelers O-line but if he is back to his prior form he will provide a much-needed upgrade. After the opening four games, the O-line has been a disaster for the 2-2 Steelers, who this Sunday are at home to the surprising Tennessee Titans. The Steelers have been unable to run the ball as efficiently as in past years while on the passing front they haven’t protected quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who last week was sacked five times and suffered an injured left foot in the loss to Houston. On the season Roethlisberger has been sacked 14 times and has been constantly flushed out of the pocket while running for his life. The hope is Starks can offer the banged up Roethlisberger sufficient protection this week. PUCKER UP, REGGIE Reggie Bush may not be much of a running back these days but when it comes to butt-kissing he’s a Hall of Famer. On an 0-4 Miami Dolphins team that is sinking into the sunset and has lost it’s starting quarterback, Chad Henne, Bush is sucking up to embattled coach Tony Sparano, who is hanging on to his job by a thread. “I think coach Sparano is a great coach and it’s not all on him,” Bush said of the problems that plague the team. “Like I said, it falls on all the shoulders who’s getting paid by the Dolphins, we’re all employees here and we’re all grown men, we have a job to do. A lot of us haven’t been doing the job as well as we should have been. “It’s not all coach Sparano’s fault, he’s a great coach and obviously, being the head coach, he’s naturally going to be one of the guys that takes a lot of criticism. As long as we in this locker room know that it’s not all on him, it’s about us, altogether, getting better collectively, we’ll be alright.” Bush is definitely one of the problems as he is not performing to his expected level. In the four games he has gained just 119 games on 40 carries and no touchdowns. He has also caught 13 passes for 86 yards and one TD. But he loves his coach. “I think everybody in this locker room knows what we have in coach Tony Sparano, we have a great guy, a great person, a great coach, a great mentor, and we just try to block it out and focus on taking care of the things we can internally,” Bush said. Pucker up, Reggie. WHAT’S UP WITH HILLIS? Last season running back Peyton Hillis was not only a feel-good story in Cleveland but in the league as well. He was the little engine that could, a Rudy-esque story of a player who would not take ‘No’ for an answer. This season the bloom has definitely come off the Hillis rose amid charges that the Browns are limiting his touches because of contract negotiations. He’s in the final year of a rookie contract that will pay him $600,000. “Absolutely not,” head coach Pat Shurmur replied when it was suggested that Hillis is seeing less action because of contract issues. “I think it’s a non-issue. The game changes as the score changes, and a lot of times that involves throwing it.” Hillis did not play against Miami in Week 3 due to a strep throat and other flu-like symptoms and that caused eyebrows to be raised and whispers that it might have something to do with the contract. He came back to play in last Sunday’s 31-13 loss to Tennessee but in that game he carried the ball just 10 times for 46 yards and caught an additional five passes for 23 yards. Although the Browns have changed to a west coast offence which stresses the passing game and ball control, Shurmur said that Hillis remains a big part of the offence. “He’s a terrific player,” Shurmur said. “He’s a big part of what we do. And again, if I were here a year ago and I could have felt all this, I might have a different answer. The running back in any offence, especially ours, is a very important piece and he needs to touch the football.” The Browns will have an added week to get their act together as they enjoy the bye week before travelling to the west coast and a trip to the Black Hole and the Raiders. RAMS, QB LOOK SHELL-SHOCKED You have to wonder what’s going on in St. Louis. Or make that, what’s not going on in St. Louis. Just about everybody’s pick to win the non-talented NFC West, the Rams have regressed and are worse than their 0-4 record would suggest. Coming into the year it figured that quarterback Sam Bradford would be that much better, that much more experienced having survived a pretty accomplished rookie season in 2010. Coming into the year, expectations were high for Bradford and the entire St. Louis offence thanks to the hire of Josh McDaniels as their new offensive coordinator. The thinking was that McDaniels would open things up, allow Bradford to blossom and the entire Rams offence would take a giant step forward and become something of a force to be reckoned with. Instead, they’ve retreated into a cave. Bradford appears shell-shocked and indecisive and holds on to the ball far too long as his 18 sacks would indicate. On the passing front, the Rams rank 27th in the league averaging just 187 yards per game. Running the ball, and boy do they miss Steve Jackson or what, they average 92.5 yards and rank 23rd. When it comes to scoring points, they average 11.5 per game and rank 31st. That’s just not getting it done and it can’t all be blamed on the level of the opposition they have played in the Eagles, the Giants, the Ravens and the Redskins. The Rams are one of six teams who get this weekend off as they desperately need the extra time to regroup and work on getting some of the kinks out of the offence. Unfortunately when they return to the field Oct. 16, they find themselves visiting Green Bay to play the Packers. When you’re struggling, Green Bay is the last spot you want to be.

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