The Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line is facing an uphill battle, with two rookie starters and three players in total who are new to the team this year in the starting lineup. Not to mention a new offensive line coach running a new system in a new offense.
Even veteran Trai Turner, the free agent addition this year, acknowledged while speaking to reporters today that they are facing “a continuous learning curve”. But they are gradually working their way up that curve, and a lot of it has to do with the acceleration—and accumulation of experience—of their rookies, such as center Kendrick Green.
Though having played guard as his primary position in college, Green has been used exclusively at center since being selected in the third round and deemed the favorite to start. While he has had his struggles, however, he has largely presented himself as their best option, with tremendous upside. And Turner is impressed with his ability to handle the responsibilities that come along with his position.
“He goes out there and he makes the majority of the calls for the line. He’s directing the line, he’s telling people where to go”, the veteran told reporters today. “I think that’s phenomenal for a person that’s been on this team for maybe, what, four months or so? I think he’s just gonna keep getting better”.
One of the staples of Green’s play is looking skyward. That’s because he puts a lot of people on their backs—but he also ends up on his own too much. It’s nice to have a center who can flip a pancake a few times a game, but you don’t want him getting flipped as often as he is.
Dan Moore Jr. is the other rookie starter, a fourth-round pick out of Texas A&M. He has been starting at left tackle, a late decision after Zach Banner was deemed not ready to return from his torn ACL suffered last September. He was to start at right tackle, with Chukwuma Okorafor on the left, but with Banner’s situation, Okorafor was moved to the right, with Moore on the left. And let’s just say both of them can stand to get better.
As for Turner himself, consistency is certainly something he must still strive for. The former five-time Pro Bowler is very much able to flash that level of skill from time to time, but at times it feels he offers as many ‘minus’ blocks as he does ‘plus’ blocks.
Turner was signed in late June on the same day that the Steeler released David DeCastro, a nine-year veteran, after an MRI revealed that he would need ankle surgery and would not be available at the start of the season, at least. It is unknown whether or not he still intends to play again, or if he will retire.