The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.
Question: Will the Steelers attempt to feed Matt Feiler some work at center for emergency purposes?
While the Steelers are surely not unique in this, they prefer to have three players on their roster who are capable of playing the center position: one starter who is a center, at least one primary reserve who is fully capable of manning the position, and at least one additional player who had practiced at the position that would be able to line up there in the event of a dire emergency.
Most know that for the past few years, that player has been Chris Hubbard, who has now signed with the Cleveland Browns. B.J. Finney is the primary interior reserve today, but prior to him it was Cody Wallace.
Finney remains with the team, but behind him along the interior only Matt Feiler has any sort of meaningful experience. Having primarily been a tackle in a previous stage of his career, he has work extensively at guard in recent years.
The ability to become a center-capable player would go a long way toward increasing his odds of sticking on the roster for at least a few years, given the team’s desire to have at least two backups capable of playing center.
And if the team doesn’t address the offensive line position in the draft, there are slim odds of them finding a player who is capable of filling in that number three position. The other backup is tackle Jerald Hawkins, who has no interior experience. I am aware of no experience that either Ramon Foster or David DeCastro might have snapping.
Mind you, this is not a particularly big deal in the grand scheme of things, but consider last year’s season finale, with Maurkice Pouncey getting the game off. Finney was injured in the first half and Hubbard had to finish the rest of the game.
If Pouncey or Finney suffer an injury and sit out a game, who is going to serve as the backup center? You are one snap away in that instance from fielding a player who has no experience snapping the ball.