The Pittsburgh Steelers will have at least two starters along the offensive line who were not even on the team a year ago—two players at very different points in their careers. Projected center Kendrick Green is a rookie third-round pick. Trai Turner was brought in at the end of June to replace David DeCastro at right guard, going into his eighth season and with five Pro Bowls behind him.
Turner is by far the most experienced (starting) lineman the Steelers have, with Chukwuma Okorafor being the runner-up with 18 starts, none of them as the intended starter. Head coach Mike Tomlin has been open about his expectation that the veteran plays up to a mentoring role within that relatively inexperienced room, and he has made good on that with an active relationship with the young players, especially Green.
“That’s my center, the guy I play next to the most since I’ve been here”, Turner said of the rookie center following practice earlier today. “We question each other. He’s piggybacking stuff off of me, and I’m piggybacking stuff off of him”.
While Green is new to the league, Turner is new to the team, and his first snaps in training camp were the first he’s taken with the Steelers, so even as a rookie, there’s no doubt some things Green could have aided Turner with specific to Pittsburgh’s makeup.
“I feel like with knowledge, you can’t just give knowledge, you have to take it in, too”, Turner said. “You have to be able to listen to somebody for someone to be able to listen to you. That’s just where we’re standing right now, just working to get better daily and building continuity. I think that’s what’s important right now”.
At the very start of training camp, Green described Turner as “a hard worker, knows football, and he likes to play hard”, adding that “he’s helped me out a lot already, just with minor tweaks and stuff, just because he’s been around the league so long. I appreciate him. I love working with him”.
He’s no doubt played a similar role for Kevin Dotson, the Steelers’ second-year projected starting left guard. Even Zach Banner, now in his fifth year, could benefit from Turner’s wisdom, considering he has just one start under his belt.
On the field, many have noted that the 28-year-old’s performance has left something to be desired, and certainly, there has been a certain lack of consistency, to date. As has been the case for the last few years, however, you can still see those moments within the game that made him a perennial Pro Bowler. Hopefully with more snaps under his belt, he can string more of those snaps together.