The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.
How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? Who is sitting out due to injury?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Are the Steelers really tinkering with their offensive line in the event Ramon Foster misses another game?
According to reports from the local beat writers, the Steelers have been spending time in practice this week working right tackle Matt Feiler at Ramon Foster’s left guard spot, and lining up second-year Chukwuma Okorafor at right tackle.
Foster remains in the concussion protocol and has not yet practiced, as he appears to be tracking toward missing his second consecutive game. Every other game he has missed in the past several years has seen B.J. Finney start in his place, including last week’s game, so this movement is peculiar.
One might think that this is a move designed simply to give Feiler and Okorafor different looks in practice. Feiler obviously practice at right tackle, but is technically the second interior reserve behind Finney, after Fred Johnson was claimed off waivers, so it would be a good idea for him to get a look or two.
As for Okorafor, presumably he primarily practices at left tackle rather than right tackle, so this is an opportunity to get him not just on the right side, but working with the first-team group. The larger curiosity about this is that he is a healthy scratch on gamedays, with Zach Banner dressing instead.
Is this the lineup that the coaching staff feels gives them the best chance of success, at least for this week, minus Foster? Will Feiler really start at left guard (he did start at right guard in 2017 for one game)? Will Okorafor start at right tackle in his place? Or are the Steelers just fleshing out contingency plans?