Ten weeks in and as always there's a bunch of news to cover. Some teams are getting healthier and rise up the ranks, while others are like walking mash units. The big men, the #offensiveline, let's get after it!
The Chiefs' offensive line has recovered from recent injuries. Center Mitch Morse returned to action two games ago while right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff returned last week in the loss against Dallas. These players are still showing signs of rust from their injury, but the overall cohesion levels are much higher with the starters in the lineup (and subs like Zach Fulton and Cameron Erving returned back to the bench). With their usual lineup, the Chiefs grade out as a mid-tier unit, just outside the border of top-tier.
PIT + 2
After missing five games with a hamstring injury, right tackle Marcus Gilbert is reportedly "feeling good." Gilbert is expected to start this Sunday at Indianapolis. Gilbert's rehab took longer than expected when he suffered set backs trying to do too much too soon. There's probably a lesson in there. Chris Hubbard played well in Gilbert's place and could be the team's long term plan at the spot. The Steelers' offensive line remain a top-tier option.
Left tackle Joe Staley is practicing with a tinted visor on his facemask to protect the broken eye socket he suffered less than two weeks ago at Philadelphia. Staley was not expected back this quickly but he's tougher than average and all signs point to a heroic return this week at home against the New York Giants. With Staley's return, Trent Brown can go back to his normal right tackle position and Erik Magnusen can go back to the swing tackle role. This is a tough line; If the offense can get more consistent play from the quarterback position, the 49ers could actually provide fantasy points down the stretch.
Left tackle Taylor Decker has been practicing with the team for the last two weeks and he could be set to make his debut in this week's game against Cleveland. Decker has been recovering from shoulder surgery all season and if he doesn't make his debut this week, it would most likely happen next week at the latest. Brian Mihalik has been playing decently at left tackle in place of Decker. Mihalik was elevated to the starting lineup for the last two weeks after the coaches made the decision to bench Greg Robinson. Mihalilk really impressed these last two weeks and could have won the swing tackle job outright. Assuming Decker rejoins the lineup, the Lions' offensive line grade out as a solid mid-tier option going forward.
Left guard Nick Easton was a full participant in practice this week and looks to be full go for this weekend's contest at Washington. Easton had missed three games prior to the bye week with a calf injury. Right tackle Mike Remmers remains out with a concussion. Beat writers expect Rashod Hill to get another start in his place. Hill has started games at both tackle spots this season and is a decent swing option. The Vikings' offensive line are a mid-tier option with Easton's return to the line.
Right tackle Brandon Shell has been practicing this week and looks ready to start against Tampa Bay. While Shell had been dealing with a neck injury, Brent Qvale and Ben Ijalana saw time in his place. If healthy, Shell is a noticable upgrade from the backups. Right guard Brian Winters missed practice with an abdomen injury, but he remains in the rankins for now. The Jets' offensive line has been rounding into form lately, and assuming Winters plays this weekend, they grade out as a mid-tier unit.
Right tackle Joe Barksdale is hopeful that he can return to the starting lineup after two weeks (last week was a bye) resting his turf toe. In Barksdale's place, Michael Schofield has been starting on the right side. Schofield is a good veteran run blocker but can be compromised in pass protection. In other news, rookie Dan Feeney has been mixed in relief of Matt Slauson at left guard. Assuming Barksdale returns to his spot, the Chargers' offensive line grades out about mid-tier, just below average.
Left guard Quinton Spain missed his second straight game last week against Baltimore with a turf toe injury. Veteran Brian Schwenke got the snaps in Spain's place. Schwenke is a long time veteran of the Titans' offensive system that has started many games at center for the franchise. Schwenke didn't make it out of camp this preseason, but they brought him back when Spain's injury struck. Assuming Spain is still out of action, the Titans' offensive line is downgraded ever so slightly. They still are a clear top-tier unit, based mostly on the strength of the tackles.
Left tackle Donovan Smith suffered a knee injury during last week's loss to New Orleans and has not been practicing this week. Left guard Kevin Pamphile took Smith's place during the contest and appears on track to start again this week at home against the New York Jets. Pamphile had been splitting time with Evan Smith (formerly Evan Dietrich-Smith when he played with Green Bay) and the team considers both to be capable starters (as guards). Pamphile is versatile but can be targetted in pass protection. In related news, right tackle Demar Dotson also missed practice with an undisclosed injury, but he remains in the rankings for now.
Right tackle Bryan Bulaga suffered a torn ACL in last week's Monday Night Football loss to Detroit. Bulaga will be headed to the injured reserve list for the third time in six seasons. Justin McCray replaced Bulaga in the contest but left late with an ankle injury. Jason Spriggs has been practicing and could play right tackle if McCray cannot go this week. The Packers' offensive line did get some good news as left guard Lane Taylor returned to the lineup last week. Still, the loss of Bulaga outweighs the return of Taylor and the Packers' offensive line grade out as low-tier unit until proven otherwise.
|5||PIT||7||2||30.15||A||A+||B+||RT Gilbert returns.|
|7||TEN||5||-2||29.63||A-||A||B+||LG Spain (Schwenke).|
|8||SF||32||24||29.6||A-||A||B+||LT Staley to return.|
|10||JAX||9||-1||29.4||A-||A-||B+||RG A.J. Cann (Linder).|
|11||NO||10||-1||29.28||B+||B+||B+||RG Warford (Kelemete).|
|13||KC||17||4||29.03||B+||A-||B||RG Duvernay-Tardiff returned.|
|15||NE||14||-1||28.78||B||B||B||RT Cannon (Waddle)|
|16||MIA||16||0||28.68||B||B-||B+||LG Steen (Davis).|
|17||CAR||18||1||28.6||B||B+||B-||C Kalil (Larsen)|
|18||DET||20||2||28.6||B||B||B||LT Decker to return.|
|19||MIN||22||3||28.6||B||B+||B-||LG Easton to return. RT Remmers (Hill).|
|21||NYJ||25||4||28.48||B-||B-||B-||RT Shell to return.|
|LOW TIER||22||LAC||28||6||28.4||B-||B-||B-||RT Barksdale to return.|
|24||TB||15||-9||28.28||B-||B||C+||LT Smith (Pamphile).|
|25||GB||12||-13||28.1||C+||C||B-||LG Taylor returned. RT Bulaga (McCray)|
|28||NYG||26||-2||27.98||C||C+||C-||RT Pugh (Hart).|
|32||WAS||31||-1||27.68||D+||C-||D||LG Lauvao & RG Scherff to return. LT Williams (Clemmings) & C Long (Roullier).|
If there are any questions about a team or lineman not specifically talked about in this article, please feel free to contact me via Twitter.