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2020 South Side Questions: How Good Can O-Line Be By End Of Season?

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: Assuming the Steelers manage to keep this starting offensive line intact, how good can they be by the end of the season?

Change was inevitable. Change was necessary. The retirement of Ramon Foster necessitated that. Unfortunately, there is more change on the horizon in unrestricted free agency in March,  but for now, the Steelers have their starting five offensive linemen that should theoretically take them through the remainder of the regular season.

Left tackle, center, and right guard are secure, with David DeCastro returning to the lineup. Matt Feiler has since moved to left guard. Zach Banner started the opener at right tackle before being injured, but Chukwuma Okorafor took his place since then.

Last week’s game against the Texans was the first of the season that featured what should be the starting five for the remainder of the year. They rushed for 169 yards, their most in almost three years, and protected Ben Roethlisberger pretty well over 80 snaps.

There is still room for improvement, though, and we have seen seasons in the recent past in which they develop over the course of the year, emerging as one of the top lines in the NFL by the time they are prepared to make a playoff push.

Can that be this line? Can they be one of the top offensive lines in football? They do still have three Pro Bowl stalwarts, and Feiler has a track record of more than 30 starts now, albeit only five at guard. Okorafor is the biggest wildcard with four starts to his name.

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