Now that training camp has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: T Zach Banner
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: The veteran offensive tackle, who was projected to be the opening-day starter on the right side, was placed on the Reserve/Injured List yesterday, requiring him to miss at least the first three games of the season, and obviously signaling that he is still not back where he needs to be following his ACL injury coming up on a year ago.
If Zach Banner is indeed going to finally get his opportunity to be a full-time starter, then it’s going to have to wait a while longer. The fifth-year tackle was placed on the Reserve/Injured List yesterday, and the rules require that he misses at least three games before he is eligible to return to the 53-man roster.
The move was not wholly expected, at least after reports that he had not been practicing this week, which prompted Chukwuma Okorafor to slide from the left side to the right and install rookie Dan Moore Jr. on the left side.
Banner won the starting right tackle job in training camp last year, and did start in the season opener, but he suffered a torn ACL toward the very end of that game, late in the fourth quarter. The Steelers believed in him enough that they signed him to a two-year contract as an unrestricted free agent, believing that he could come back and be their starter.
The coaching and training staff have been bringing him along very slowly throughout this process, holding him out of a lot of practice sessions. He played in only two drives, totaling 12 snaps, during the third preseason game, and seemingly did not practice again after that, or at least has not practiced recently.
This obviously suggests that he may have had a setback in his recovery, which would be extremely unfortunate, but now he will have all the time that he needs to get healthy. Whether or not he might have a starting job when he gets back is another question.