Steelers News

Mike Tomlin Not Interested In ‘Rags To Riches Tale’ About Novice O-Line, Says They’re Expected To Deliver

Chukwuma Okorafor, Kevin Dotson

The Pittsburgh Steelers have their work cut out for them as it concerns renovating both their running game and their offensive line. Since last season, they have swapped out their offensive coordinator, offensive line coach, starting running back, and four starters from last year’s offensive line.

While there likely will be three players starting this season who played last year, only one was an intended starter, and he was limited to one game. Of the other two, one has never played in the position he is expected to play this year. They have the next month and a half to get it all fine-tuned in time for the start of the regular season.

Head coach Mike Tomlin said he’s not interested in “a rags to riches tale” about his offensive line, the idea that they have a ragtag band of misfits that they hope can come together and gel as a really solid unit. “There’s an expectation these guys are going to deliver”.

Since last season, center Maurkice Pouncey retired, left tackle Alejandro Villanueva and left guard Matt Feiler left in free agency, and right guard David DeCastro was released with a non-football injury. Trai Turner was signed to take over for DeCastro, while Kendrick Green was drafted to start at center, if he wins the job.

Elsewhere, second-year Kevin Dotson is expected to inherit the left guard position after starting four games in 2020, two on the left side. Zach Banner, who won the right tackle job in training camp but tore his ACL in the opener, is back for that job. Chukwuma Okorafor, who started the remainder of the season at right tackle, is moving over to the left side.

That’s a lot of changes, and not much experience. All told, they have only a few hundred snaps among their projected starting offensive line where the intended starters have actually played in the positions they are lining up to play now.

But they’re not starting off from a high point, anyway. As Tomlin noted, “we don’t have the bar set real high. We were last in the league in rushing last year”.

Taken from an it-can’t-get-any-worse perspective, it could take some of the pressure off of this group, but the reality is that they need to perform in order for this team, and this offense, to go anywhere, even with the accumulated talent at the skill positions they have.

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