The Pittsburgh Steelers are now training camp, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.
Even training camp will look much different from the norm, and a big part of that will be the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. There will be no preseason played in 2020, so the first time the Steelers take the field in 2020 will be for the season opener against the New York Giants.
Before we get there, however, there are a number of issues that are outstanding on this team, and this year’s edition of training camp will not provide the level of thoroughness that teams are normally used to in trying to answer those questions.
Questions like, what is the starting offensive line going to look like? Will it include Zach Banner or Chukwuma Okorafor? Who will be the primary nose tackle? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.
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: How much of a concern should there be that the Steelers will eventually have to move Matt Feiler back to right tackle at some point this season?
If it can at all be avoided, the Steelers seem to be focused on moving Matt Feiler to left guard this season, probably more to do with their desire to have a younger player in either Chukwuma Okorafor or Zach Banner at right tackle. Not because they are younger, but that they need to know that their investments here have not been in vain.
The reality is, however, that both of these players have minimal relative experience as NFL linemen. Okorafor does have two starts at right tackle in his history, albeit in games, particularly his first as a rookie, in which he was given a lot of help. Banner played over 200 snaps last season, but as an extra lineman, with an emphasis on run-blocking, when the priority is pass protection.
I have no doubt at this point that one of either Banner or Okorafor will open the season at right tackle. I am also certain that if the first starter falters, the other will move into the starting lineup in his place. But what if he, too, slips?
Do they just go back and forth between the two? At what point do they pull the plug and just move Feiler, who has successfully started 25 games there, back to right tackle in this scenario, knowing that they have a veteran in Stefen Wisniewski with a proven track record as a starter? Remember, he didn’t have an offseason with the Kansas City Chiefs last year, signed midseason, yet he started in the Super Bowl and played well.