Steelers put Max Starks on IR

Updated: November 10, 2010, 8:36 PM ET
By James Walker | ESPN.com

The Pittsburgh Steelers suffered a major blow to their offensive line Wednesday as starting left tackle Max Starks was put on injured reserve with a neck injury, the team announced.

Starks, a starter on Pittsburgh's Super Bowl-winning teams during the 2005 and 2008 seasons, suffered stingers in his neck during Pittsburgh's win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night.

"Max has been my blind side for a while and you never like to lose a guy like that you have confidence in," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "But I have confidence that [Jonathan] Scott or whoever else it will be will do just fine protecting my back. I have confidence these guys will keep me upright."

The injury leaves the Steelers without both of their projected starting offensive tackles. Right tackle Willie Colon is out for the season after injuring an Achilles tendon in June.

"It's a huge blow, to have [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 28-year-old Starks will have neck surgery and the Steelers expect him back for the 2011 season. He has been one of the most consistent linemen in Pittsburgh for seven years. To fill the roster spot, Pittsburgh activated offensive tackle Chris Scott from the physically unable to perform list.

Scott, a fifth-round pick in the 2010 draft, missed the team's first eight games with a foot injury he suffered before training camp.

The Steelers are not very deep on the offensive line but have several options. Pittsburgh could move veteran right tackle Flozell Adams to the left side or try backup Jonathan Scott at left tackle.

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.

With a reconstructed offensive line, Pittsburgh (6-2) will host the New England Patriots (6-2) Sunday in a big game matching two of the best teams in the AFC.

James Walker covers the AFC North for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

ALSO SEE