Trai Turner didn’t come to Pittsburgh to replace David DeCastro. He’ll do it anyway, in a sense, though he doesn’t approach it in that way. “I’m just the new right guard”, he told reporters earlier this offseason. Likewise, he didn’t join the Steelers to be a mentor to a bunch of young offensive linemen.
But he’ll do that, too, because that’s what is asked of him, and that is what he is naturally capable of doing, as a seven-year veteran who is by far—by far—the most experienced lineman in the room, especially among their starters. Yet, again, he doesn’t approach it in a mentoring capacity. He’s just another lineman, sharing what he knows.
“All I could do is be myself. All I could do is go out there and show it in my work and my effort, and to give insight where I have knowledge”, he told reporters yesterday. “I can’t speak on things I don’t know. It’s just a work in progress. Just me taking accountability first, and then second going out there and putting it on the grass”.
Signed in late June to a one-year, $3 million contract the same day the Steelers waived DeCastro after learning that he would require ankle surgery, Turner steps into the one role most people probably felt comfortable about along the offensive line following the first wave of free agency.
It is his job to deliver above-the-line play himself, but his role will also go beyond that, as he helps to coach up Kendrick Green, the young rookie center next to him, and Kevin Dotson, the second-year guard. Even Zach Banner and Chukwuma Okorafor can learn a thing or two from the five-time Pro Bowler, and he has been available.
“I see from a standpoint of, maybe I’m a bit of an older guy here now, but we have two really good coaches, and we have a lot of support around here”, Turner said. “Whether they come to me or they come to the coaches, as long as they get the right answer, and we’re on the same page, that’s all that matters”.
It is a critical endeavor, because the offensive line is the engine that is going to drive this offense. On paper, they have enough at wide receiver, tight end, running back, and quarterback to get the job done—as long as the offensive line does theirs.