It’s fair to say the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line looked like a tired group of guys last season. Understandably so. 2020 was difficult for about a thousand reasons, the Steelers’ bye week situation was a mess, and the group was getting older across the board.
For a returning face like B.J. Finney, the room he left a little more than a year ago looks a lot different. No Matt Feiler. No Alejandro Villanueva. Retirements by Maurkice Pouncey and Ramon Foster.
There are obvious challenges in trying to reshape this front five. But Finney sees the upside of it, too. A young, energetic, and hungry group with a whole lot to prove. He talked about his experience with this current offensive line.
“There’s a seven of us together for five years, which is unheard,” he told the media on Thursday. “Extremely rare. Those guys, we didn’t even have to really say anything. We were just always on the same page. But having these new young guys come, there’s a younger energy. I won’t say that they’re hungrier but they’re starting to find their traction in the NFL and they’re starting to figure out what it’s like.”
For Finney, those new faces include Kevin Dotson, the team’s fourth-round pick in 2020. Dotson started four games for the team last year. Known as a run blocker, his pass protection really stood out in a positive way and he was consistently solid throughout the season. Now expected to be the team’s day one starter at left guard, Dotson is now much more comfortable playing there. There’s also third-round rookie Kendrick Green, Finney’s direct competition at center. Ideally, those two guys make each other better and make a tough decision on the Steelers’ coaching staff.
Regardless of Finney’s role, his approach remains the same. He’ll do anything and everything asked of him.
“To me, same thing as always. Wherever I can get on the field. Right now they’re leaning on me as a vet at center, but they say, ‘Hey, we might play you at guard.’ We’ll just kind of see where things go. We’re just going to have fun with it.”
This offensive line will see plenty of camp battles for starters, immediate backups, and just to make the team. Whether that’s Green vs Finney, Dan Moore Jr. vs Joe Haeg, Rashaad Coward vs (maybe everyone?), the Steelers are going to figure out what they have — and who they have — this summer.