When you have a Hall of Fame quarterback and a Hall of Fame center and you break up that relationship, there is no replacing it. You simply move on. it’s been a bit of a them for the Pittsburgh Steelers this year, about bringing in new guys to will play the roles of long-established veterans, with the acknowledgement that there is no replacement for what is gone.
Rookie third-round pick Kendrick Green is not replacing Maurkice Pouncey. He’s simply the new center on the team, and the Steelers are hoping that he is in the starting lineup sooner rather than later. That will be dictated by how quickly he can build a rapport with Ben Roethlisberger, among other factors.
According to reports from today’s training camp session, the rookie did have a hiccup or two, including a bobbled snap exchange that led to a fumble, but those are the growing pains of the process. Green is focused on “just being able to be trusted by [Roethlisberger] and be reliable”, he told Missi Matthews after practice. “We’re starting somewhere. This training camp, we’re gonna get it right. We’ve got weeks to go, so that’s what we’re gonna do”.
— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) July 28, 2021
While he will have some competition for the right to start at center from B.J. Finney and J.C. Hassenauer, both of whom have dealt with some injuries, but at least the former appears to have worked his way back, he is still favored to win the job. Head coach Mike Tomlin already named him the starter for the Hall of Fame game next week.
“I’m not really thinking about that”, he told Matthews, however, when asked about what it means to him to have been given that nod to be the starter for the opening preseason game. “I’m just kind of taking it day by day. That’s all I can say on that”.
Starting the first preseason game, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean much. That is especially the case if you are a new face, particularly a rookie, as it could instead be a sign that the team just wants to get a better look at you because they already have a good body of information about your competitors.
Roethlisberger talked about Pouncey and Green when training camp first opened. While he was clearly still missing his longtime center, the veteran quarterback also had some generous words to say about the rookie, talking about his great passion for the game, and for the opportunity before him to be a starter.
While he may be the only rookie in the starting lineup along the offensive line, Green is one of just many new faces up front, or at least old faces in new places. Trai Turner, for example, was brought in to replace David DeCastro. Kevin Dotson takes over for Matt Feiler. Chukwuma Okorafor moves over to the left side with Alejandro Villanueva gone, while Zach Banner gets another stab at the right tackle job.