2020 South Side Questions: How Serious Is Zach Banner’s Injury?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, 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 looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.

As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion

Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? 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 serious is Zach Banner’s injury?

It took the Pittsburgh Steelers four games in 2019 to secure their first victory of the season. They were able to get that first win under their belt on their first try last night, but it came at a cost. It remains to be seen just what the price will be.

Early in the game, James Conner left with an ankle injury. In the latter stages of the fourth quarter, the Steelers lost two linemen in quick succession, first Stefen Wisniewski, starting at right guard for David DeCastro, and then Zach Banner, who won a training camp competition for the right to start.

Banner’s injury appeared to be serious and largely non-contact, going to the ground holding his leg. He was visibly emotional on the sidelines as teammates consoled him, fearing that the injury may be serious and cost him his starting job just as he earned it.

If this proves to be season-ending, it would be crushing. Banner put in so much work not just over the past year but over the past three with the Steelers to put himself in this position. And in his first career start, it could be gone already.

He was ultimately carted off the field, but one can only hope that the end result is not as bad as it looked. In the meantime, Chukwuma Okorafor will likely step in, at the very least until DeCastro gets back, if they are considering moving Matt Feiler back over to right tackle.

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