The Pittsburgh Steelers are gearing up to feature a very new offensive line this year, after parting with four starters from a year ago. While the starting lineup, as currently projected, only features two players who are new to the team, one is a rookie, of whom much will be asked.
That would be Kendrick Green, the third-round center out of Illinois, who, like his predecessor Maurkice Pouncey, a first-round pick in 2010, will be expected to be capable of being a full-time starter from the very first snap of his career, despite still being somewhat new to the position.
One thing that Green has proven to be since arriving in the NFL, though, is dedicated. Dedicated to the game, dedicated to his craft, and dedicated to being successful. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger talked about how impressed he was with the work Green put in during the break ahead of training camp, for example.
Speaking to reporters earlier today, Green said that he was upset by the sack that he allowed on Mason Rudolph in the second preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The rookie was driven back in the pocket on the play, and if forced the offense on the field.
“I’ll leave that between he and I. I don’t talk about our business in this forum”, head coach Mike Tomlin said after practice when asked about the details of the conversation he had with his young center about that play, and of his focus on that tape.
“But I’m glad he’s properly motivated by his tape, because our tape is our walking, talking, breathing resume”, he continued. “That’s all we have as professionals, and so it’s less about what we say; it’s more about what we do, and the plays that we leave on tape is important”.
Asked to assess his play and his progression, Tomlin would something offer, “he’s doing great”.
Green has been expected pretty much since the moment that he was drafted to be the day-one opening starter at center. The only other true centers on the roster are B.J. Finney and J.C. Hassenauer, but Green has taken virtually all of the first-team center snaps in training camp whenever he has been available.
Hassenauer himself is only a second-year player, a former college free agent, who started four games last season, including three at center, due to injury. Finney is now in his sixth season, and spent his first four years in Pittsburgh, during which he recorded five of 12 starts at center.
But they are looking for somebody who can be a 17-game starter, and while they know there will be some growing pains, they believe that Green is their guy. Tomlin’s comments today, as well as last week, have confirmed as much.