The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is underway, and they are hoping for a better outcome in comparison to last season. After starting out 11-0, they finished the year 1-4 in the regular season, and then lost in the Wildcard Round to the Cleveland Browns, ignited by a 0-28 first quarter.
They have lost a large number of key players in the offseason, like Maurkice Pouncey, Bud Dupree, Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, Mike Hilton, and Steven Nelson, but they’ve also made significant additions as the months have gone on, notably Trai Turner, Melvin Ingram, Joe Schobert, and Ahkello Witherspoon. They also added Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Kendrick Green, and Dan Moore Jr., all of whom look to be in a starting role (or complementary role in Freiermuth’s case) for the season opener.
There isn’t much left to do but to play the games at this point. They have a 53-man roster, though it will always change to some degree. They still have a lot to figure out, though, such as what Matt Canada’s offense is going to look like in any given week, or how the new-look secondary and offensive line is going to play.
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: Will Zach Banner start practicing this week?
There are few things that head coach Mike Tomlin likes more than not knowing the answers to questions that reporters ask, often seemingly intentionally. It is a regular occurrence for him to answer a question by saying that he ‘hadn’t thought about it in those terms’, or some variation of that. When it comes to the status of injured players, he plays blissfully unaware of their status under the guise of ‘focusing my energies on those who are available’, and platitudes of that nature.
I don’t believe for a second that he is so consistently uninformed about the various elements surrounding his team that don’t immediately apply to the practice field. It’s not a convenient way of not providing information that he doesn’t need to provide.
He knows whether or not Zach Banner is going to practice today. And everybody will know whether or not Banner, or the other eligible players on the Reserve/Injured List, practice, because it is required that they submit it to the league, as players coming off of IR have a 21-day practice window.
Once they start practicing, they have 21 days to be activated to the 53-man roster. If they are not, then they have to remain on the Reserve/Injured List for the remainder of the season, or be released. Given that Banner was a projected starter, and with Chukwuma Okorafor dealing with a concussion, you’d think Tomlin would be curious about how close Banner is to returning to the field.