While the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line has undergone a bit of a metamorphosis this offseason, the group, as a whole, still has a lot of familiarity within the players that will make up the total eight or nine likely to comprise the depth chart at the start of the 2020 regulr season. Because of all of that familiarity that comprises the Steelers offensive line group with training camp well underway, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked on Thursday to give his thoughts on the importance of having all of that continuity this season and especially in light of the impact the coronovirus has had on the NFL offseason.
“You know, particularly in this environment, I think continuity is an asset,” Tomlin said. “You know, in an offensive line, it probably gives you an advantage in terms of some of the unforeseen things that you could see in stadiums at the early portions of the season that you don’t have a lot of video evidence of. That shared past experience that those guys have has a potential to be an asset to them, no doubt.”
While Tomlin does seem to have some level of comfort in the continuity at the top of the Steelers depth chart this offseason, he was quick to point out that his year’s starting five will have a little bit of a different look, positionally, than last season’s starting five.
“But we’re also going through some transition there,” Tomlin said. “We’ve been looking exclusively at Matt Feiler at left guard. He’s also been a part of us, but he’s been playing right tackle and the two right tackle guys [Chukwuma Okafor and Zach Banner] that have been rotating and have gotten the opportunities in the recent past as tight ends reporting as eligible and such. We’re hoping that that playing experience, and particularly, that shared playing experience, is an asset to a group in some unique times.”
While Matt Feiler is indeed flipping over from right tackle to left guard this year, that move is expected to go well and has long been anticipated by many since around the middle of last season. As for the battle for the starting right tackle spot this summer between Chukwuma Okafor and Zach Banner, that’s the interesting one to watch play out because neither player has played extensive at that position so far during their NFL careers.
Regardless of whoever ultimately wins that starting right tackle spot this year during training camp, Tomlin and company are still likely to have some angst at the start of the regular season when it comes to that particular position because of the aforementioned inexperience both of those competing players have to date.
“And stepping into regular season stadiums without any video evidence of personalities or schematics of opponents is something that’s worrisome,” Tomlin said on Thursday.