Change is coming to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line, an unavoidable reality of losing four starters in one offseason. Earlier today, head coach Mike Tomlin declared all positions (not just those on the offensive line) open for competition, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t favorites.
Take Kendrick Green, for example. The rookie third-round pick is the presumed starter at center, but whether or not it turns out that way is yet to be determined. He still has to compete with B.J. Finney and J.C. Hassenauer, two more experienced veterans who do have some starts under their belt.
Despite the atmosphere of competition, though, Green says that his fellow centers have been helpful as he transitions to the NFL, and to the center position on a full-time basis. Aside from his coaches, he also credits the men he goes up against every day for what progress he has made so far.
“J.C. and B.J. Finney, they’ve helped me out a ton, just with playbook stuff and things like that”, he told reporters after practice today. “My o-line coaches, both of them, Coach C-Mo [Chris Morgan], Coach [Adrian Klemm], they’ve helped me out a bunch. And the d-line, they’re the best it gets, so as you’re working with them, you’re gonna get better. You don’t have a choice”.
Klemm was promoted to offensive line coach after being the assistant to Shaun Sarrett for the past two seasons. Morgan was brought in to assist Klemm, who is installing a new, more physical and aggressive approach to the position group.
One of the reasons the Steelers drafted Green is because they believe that he fits into that mindset. Though he doesn’t have elite size, he is a physical player, and an athlete as well, and anybody who knows their team history knows they value athleticism at the center position.
Tomlin announced that Green would start the Hall of Fame game pretty much as soon as training camp opened. He did miss one day of camp in order to attend the funeral of a former teammate, to my understanding, but has been consistently working beyond that.
Both Finney and Hassenauer left a recent practice due to injury. Hassenauer remains sidelined, but it appears that Finney was able to get back on the field in time for today’s session, their first padded practice since last year.
The Steelers are hoping that Green will provide them a smooth transition from Maurkice Pouncey, their 11-year, nine-time Pro Bowl starting center, who announced his retirement earlier this offseason. He’s got big shoes to fill, but he understands as well as anybody that he’s not replacing Pouncey. He’s just the new center.