"We're still hoping that when Pankey gets back, he'll be able to step in and help us out,'' Crook said.
Actually, if all of those players managed to work themselves into Crook's comfort zone as far as being ready to play, the first-year line coach might have to make some hard decisions about who not to play. That would be 10 and would form a nice, neat two-deep, but it might be too many.
"I don't think you ever want to have too many people because then you're cutting the reps of other people who need that work,'' Crook said. "You can try to get too many people ready.''
There is, of course, a down side to substituting at all and it's the reason line coaches tend to use their starters as iron men. Teamwork and cohesion is sometimes vastly underrated in offensive line play and it shouldn't be. Facing multiple fronts and a variety of creative blitz packages, offensive linemen have to communicate well, and that becomes harder when the members keep changing.
"That's why right now we're trying to move guys around and put them in with different people so they can work on that part of it,'' Crook said. "It's critical.''
In the end, though, subbing linemen and keeping them fresh as much as is practical is probably the best policy, so that's what Crook is pushing.
"I've been through some overtime games that have gone into three overtimes and you look at guys at the end of those games and they're exhausted. There's not much more they can do,'' said the former line coach at Stanford and Harvard. "To be able to save a guy maybe 15 snaps in a game makes him 15 snaps fresher.
"And over the course of a season, if you can do that for 12 games that's a big difference in the amount of hits the guy takes and the amount of reps he takes. I think it helps out in the long run.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.