A virus can make you do some funny things you wouldn’t do ordinarily. And I’m not even talking about if you happen to catch it. When a virus reaches pandemic levels, and governments are forced to place movement restrictions on its citizens for the general wellbeing of all,, you have to resort to unconventional methods.
Especially if you’re an athlete in a team sport, and have nobody else to work with. Just ask new Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski, who admits that he has gotten some funny looks while blocking against imaginary offensive linemen in his local park lately.
“I do get some funny looks”, he said recently, per Teresa Varley. “Maybe it’s because it’s social distancing, maybe because I am big and scary, but nobody has come up and said anything to me yet. But I am definitely getting some funny looks”.
Wisniewski, 31, is a Pittsburgh native, but has spent his career elsewhere. He recently spent a few years with the interstate rival Philadelphia Eagles before signing on with the Kansas City Chiefs. He has won a Super Bowl with each of them over the past three seasons.
While he may be a Steelers fan for all his life, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he has more knowledge about how Shaun Sarrett teaches his linemen or the plays that Randy Fichtner calls, or how Ben Roethlisberger likes to work. Not being able to be on the field to work on these things, even for a player with over 100 starts in his career, has been a complication that has required some creative solutions in isolation.
“I am doing some football drills by myself too. I am going through the plays, what the Steelers call, what I need to do on that play”, he said of his park-bound ventures. “But I don’t have anybody to block so I am just blocking air. It’s not quite the same as blocking a 300 plus defensive lineman, but it’s good to get some muscle memory and brain repetition, just going through some of the plays”.
Wisniewski will be in competition for a starting job this offseason at left guard, but even that is more complicated than normal. One new offensive lineman will be in the starting lineup, but it will be either at left guard or right tackle, with Matt Feiler playing the opposite position, and the new starter will be different depending on the position.
If Feiler remains at right tackle, then Wisniewski will be the likely starter at left guard, though there is an outside shot rookie Kevin Dotson can secure the job. If Feiler moves inside to left guard, where he started one game last season, either Chukwuma Okorafor or Zach Banner will have moved into his old spot.