For the first time in a long time, the Pittsburgh Steelers will start a rookie at left tackle in their Week 1 opener, tasked with protecting 39-year old Ben Roethlisberger on the blindside. For some coaches, that’s a scary thought. But Mike Tomlin isn’t concerned.
Tomlin spoke highly of Moore, the Steelers’ fourth round pick, talking with reporters during his Tuesday press conference.
“He’s developed a lot,” Tomlin told reporters via the team’s YouTube channel. “But I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that he probably came with more than we anticipated. He’s gotten better throughout the course of this. But I think his floor was higher than anticipated. At least from my perspective.”
Moore was pegged as a backup when he was drafted, though new offensive line coach Adrian Klemm said Moore had the talent and work ethic to be in the mix right away. He brought a high level of athleticism and experience against quality competition, battled-tested playing in the SEC.
His start to training camp was a rough one but he quickly improved. With Zach Banner landing on injured reserve, set to miss at least the first three games of the season, Chukwuma Okorafor is sliding from left tackle back to the right side with Moore stepping into the starting lineup.
Moore will have a tough Week 1 matchup. The Buffalo Bills have dominated the trench war each of the last two years, stymying the Steelers run game and consistently pressuring the quarterback. In the 2019 matchup, granted with Devlin Hodges at QB, Buffalo sacked the Steelers four times. In both games, 2019 and 2020, the Steelers have failed to rush for more than 55 yards.
These first three weeks will be as good an audition as any for Moore. Projecting what happens after that time is idle speculation but if Moore plays as well as Tomlin and the Steelers have talked him up, he could remain in the starting lineup even if/when Banner is healthy. And perhaps become a fixture on the Steelers’ left side for years to come.