When the Pittsburgh Steelers suddenly found themselves in a position in which it was clear that they could not count on David DeCastro at right guard to start the season, they acted swiftly when the opportunity presented itself. They released him with a Non-Football Injury designation, and the same day, signed veteran Trai Turner.
Entering his eighth season, and with five Pro Bowlers behind him, Turner is the most veteran of the Steelers’ offensive linemen now, even if he is among the newest faces (the recently-signed Chaz Green just beats him in that regard).
“I think he fits in well”, head coach Mike Tomlin said as Turner gets acclimated to the team in training camp, via transcript. “He’s a football lover. He’s the veteran guy of the group and I’ve asked him to provide that guidance for young people, if you will, even though he’s new to us. And he embraces that. We’re excited to have him”.
Among the other four projected starters, only one, left tackle Chukwuma Okorafor, has more than four career starts, and none of them came at that spot. He started 18 games at right tackle, including 16 last season. Zach Banner, the projected right tackle, started one game there last season before tearing his ACL. Kevin Dotson started four games last season, two at left guard, where he’s lining up. Kendrick Green, the projected starting center, is a rookie.
So despite the fact that he’s only been in the organization for a few weeks, there are some expectations that the Steelers are placing on him based on his veteran status relative to the rest of their relatively young and inexperienced offensive line room, which also features a first-year lead line coach in Adrian Klemm.
“I just ask those guys to be themselves”, Tomlin said regarding the veteran free agents that the team brings in, like Turner and Melvin Ingram. Turn is “a guy that brings seven years of pro experience, I think he’s a five-time Pro Bowler. It’d be selfish for him not to share that perspective”.
First and foremost, of course, he just has to get the Steelers’ terminology and blocking scheme down. Most of that happens in the classroom, but you have to be able to apply it on the field, as well, where you can also be most beneficial to your younger teammates.
Situated at right guard, Turner will be particularly surrounded by inexperience, with Green being a rookie and Banner with one start. But at the end of the day, while he may be in a new situation, he’s still doing the same thing he’s always done, which is blocking. That doesn’t change a whole lot from team to team. The name of the game is still getting a man out of the way.