One of the most disappointing Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020 was OT Chukwuma Okorafor. Once thought to be in the mix for the starting right tackle job, he decisively lost out to Matt Feiler. Zach Banner became the 6th offensive linemen, leaving Okorafor for one spot start against the Los Angeles Rams.
To hear him explain things in hindsight, one culprit appears to be a pesky shoulder injury. On Friday evening, Okorafor tweeted he felt pain free for the first time in a long time.
Honestly couldn’t tell u how long it’s been since my shoulder felt this good!!! Feels weird not being in pain haha let’s get it 2020 🗣😆
— Chukwuma Okorafor (@Chuks__76) May 8, 2020
Okorafor underwent shoulder surgery in January of 2019. But evidently, he still experienced pain following the procedure. After a disappointing training camp, we noted a lack of power in his punch that could be attributed to a bothersome shoulder.
“Specifically, his hand placement was poor and he struggled to create power on his punch because of it. Chuks is a plus athlete who gets to his spot quickly but is still working on getting stronger and playing with consistent technique. Very much a work in progress.”
Here’s the photo he tweeted out at the time, showing the operation on his right shoulder.
Surgery was a success now time to recover 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/PDHRGx9fpD
— Chukwuma Okorafor (@Chuks__76) January 18, 2019
We noted Okorafor suffered a shoulder injury early in his first training camp.
No Chukwuma Okorafor today. Hurt shoulder yesterday, per Tomlin. #Steelers
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) August 4, 2018
He’s getting healthy in the nick of time. Okorafor is back for Round Two of the right tackle job. Assuming Feiler gets kicked to left guard to replace Ramon Foster, Chuks will battle Banner for the starting job on the right side. It’s a true toss-up between the two. Banner has revived his career and logged more playing time but Okorafor has still been the play the team has turned to when they need a starting right tackle.
If Okorafor loses out on another job this year, the Steelers may be looking to move on. But if he wins it, knowing three linemen are slated to hit free agency after the season (Banner, Feiler, and Alejandro Villanueva), he could lock up a starting role for a long time.