As a collective, starting five, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line made their first appearance of the preseason in Saturday’s win over the Detroit Lions. Though it was far from perfect, led by a Chukwuma Okorafor false start the first play of the game, they played reasonably well for a first-time out. To Mike Tomlin, what impressed him the most was their attitude.
He was asked to evaluate the o-line after the game.
“I just thought in general, I thought that they really finished,” Tomlin told reporters after the game. “It seemed like our pile was falling the direction that we desire for it to fall. I thought guys were finishing with great effort. There were examples of that. You saw [Rashaad Coward] down the field, finishing a block. You saw [Kendrick Green] on several occasions really finishing. Hopefully that’s a catalyst for us as we move forward.”
Green had at least one dish of pancakes in this one, finishing a Lions’ linebacker on a combo block at the end of one running play. Duke Manyweather, who trained Green during the pre-draft process, was quick to note and tweet a clip.
Physicality and finish were the two areas highlighted by new offensive line coach Adrian Klemm. Last year, the Steelers group looked old, tired, and simply not strong enough at the point of attack. It was one of many reasons why the run game bottomed out after an average start to the season. That looks to be less of an issue this season.
Ben Roethlisberger was also impressed with the job the line did in pass protection.
“I really thought that all in all the guys did a good job up front protecting me,” he told reporters post-game. “Not making me have to run around too much.”
On the night, Steelers’ QBs were sacked just once. The Lions’ defense registered just a pair of QB hits.
That isn’t to say the Steelers’ o-line will play well just by virtue of being a rough and tumble group. But it’s a promising start and is getting Pittsburgh back to their roots. Being physical and aggressive doesn’t assure a solid run game. But without it, it almost always spells failure.