Perhaps the biggest unknown entering the regular season was what the offensive line was going to look like for the Pittsburgh Steelers. It would be foolhardy to think that we know the answer to that question after just one week in the regular season, but I think we can at least say that things could have been worse.
The offensive line includes four new starters from last season, including three who are new to the team, among them two rookies. Kendrick Green, drafted in the third round, is starting at center, while Dan Moore Jr., a fourth-round pick, was a late addition at left tackle.
“When we were going into that game, for two weeks we spent time with the silent count, which is annoying”, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “It’s just hard to do, and so we did it. I think guys, sometimes from college, they do the claps and all these kinds of things, but to see your hard work pay off, I think that’s good for everybody”.
That was especially important to work on entering a ‘hostile environment’, as the Steelers did, for their season opener. They faced a tough Buffalo Bills team who brings with them an aggressive crowd, making it difficult to hear the cadences on the field.
“I think, one time, Kendrick snapped it on one instead of two so it kind of caught us off-guard, but that’s to be expected with all the plays and all the stuff going on, and it was not a disastrous play”, Roethlisberger said. “At the end of the day, when you don’t turn the ball over and you limit pre-snap penalties, that’s good”.
Both of the rookies turned in uneven performances with their complement of highlights and lowlights. Green, for example, put defenders on their backsides several times throughout the game, largely due to his tendency to play to the echo of the whistle. However, he also has a tendency to end up on the ground himself, more often than is desired.
As for Moore, he surrendered one of the Steelers’ two sacks allowed, and was spared being responsible for the pressure that caused Roethlisberger to throw an interception if not for the fact that the play was negated by a penalty.
Still, both of them showed attributes that indicate that they can potentially grow into solid and consistent starters. If that is indeed the case, then it is best for them to get as much playing time early on as the Steelers can afford. For right now, they can’t afford for them not to play, so they don’t really have a choice.