posted on Aug, 19 2004 @ 03:22 PM
the resurrection of the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive line suffered a serious setback Thursday when the team learned that starting right guard
Kendall Simmons will miss the entire 2004 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
A third-year veteran and the Steelers' first-round choice in the 2002 draft, Simmons suffered the injury during practice Wednesday, but team officials
were convinced it was little more than a sprain. An MRI exam revealed the more serious tear, however, and Simmons will undergo season-ending surgery
when swelling in the knee subsides.
The injury is a huge blow to Simmons -- and to his teammates.
Chosen 30th overall in '02 from Auburn, Simmons was enjoying a strong training camp after a 2003 campaign marred by a series of physical problems.
Despite starting all 16 games, Simmons, 25, struggled last season after he was diagnosed with hyperglycemia, a diabetes-like condition that was
discovered right before the team's 2003 training camp.
Simmons lost considerable weight, and he played the entire season in less than ideal condition. It wasn't until this offseason that Simmons regained
tone and was able to add back much of the weight he had lost. He missed two games in his 2002 rookie season with injuries and suffered knee and ankle
injuries in college.
The Pittsburgh offensive line also is coming off a disruptive '03 campaign, one in which the five projected starters were rarely on the field
together. That situation contributed to a downturn in the Steelers' running game, and Pittsburgh finished No. 31 in the NFL in rushing yardage, its
poorest performance since the 1970 merger.
The No. 1 unit looked crisp, however, in Saturday's preseason loss at Detroit. The left side of the line, particularly tackle Marvel Smith and guard
Alan Faneca, dominated on the game's opening drive. It is not yet known how the Steelers will compensate for the loss of Simmons, who has started 30
of a possible 32 games in two years.