The Pittsburgh Steelers have only played the Cleveland Browns once over the course of the past 11 years without Joe Thomas commanding the left tackle position for literally every single snap. The future 2024 first-ballot Hall of Famer suffered a season-ending injury mid-year in 2017 and elected to retire this offseason.
As of this moment, the Browns are not actually 100 percent sure who is going to line up at left tackle for them when the Steelers come to town to face them in the season opener. Veteran left guard Joel Bitonio was moved their after their alternatives—Shon Coleman, who was traded, and Spencer Drango, who was released—struggled in training camp and the preseason.
“Whatever they put me at, I’m ready to go and play some football finally”, he told reporters yesterday as the team still tinkers with the offensive line rotation. Head Coach Hue Jackson said that he was considering moving Bitonio back to guard.
If it’s not him at tackle, then it will reportedly be either rookie undrafted free agent Desmond Harrison or veteran Greg Robinson, a former high pick who has been kicked around the league at this point after never managing to live up to his pedigree.
Rookie Austin Corbett, the 33rd-overall pick in the draft, was considered an early possibility to play left tackle, but they appear to have stuck him at left guard. He would be the starter there if Bitonio remains at left tackle.
Harrison came out of West Georgia this year, listed at the Combine at 6’6”, 292 pounds, with 34” arms and posting a sub-5.0 40-yard dash. He had a roundabout college career that started out at the junior college level before transferring to Texas, getting suspended twice in 2014 and then leaving football for two years.
Now he might be replacing one of the greatest players, and men, to ever play the left tackle position from the very first snap of his career. And that is after he missed a lot of training camp with an injury. I’m not sure if that says more about him or about the Browns’ options on the left side of the offensive line, but we may find out soon.
So, basically, the Steelers’ first opponent of the regular season is still sorting through at least three different options at the left tackle position. Hopefully Bud Dupree, who will be playing across from whoever it is that ends up playing there, will get an opportunity to take advantage of this ambiguity.