The room is pretty empty right now but J.C. Hassenauer currently sits as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ top interior backup lineman. Partially because he’s about the only interior backup on this 53 behind starters Kevin Dotson, Kendrick Green, and Trai Turner (though that’s soon expected to change).
But according to OC Matt Canada, Hassenauer was kept and is valued for all the intangibles he brings to the team.
“J.C.’s obviously been with us and certainly a big fan of his,” Canada told reporters in video provided by the team. “How hard he works, his knowledge and what he can do when he is at center. But also as you’re mentioning, he can fill in a guard and help us there and do the things we need to do if something occurs. So J.C. certainly a big part of our line and big part of our offense.”
Here’s what we wrote about him in our post-camp recap.
“His size and athleticism are average to below but he has 300+ snaps from last season at his back, making this camp probably easier on him. He also plays with a tough-guy, physical demeanor that I’m sure is endearing to coaches. He’s gotten the most center reps behind Green and it seems like the team’s pegging him to be their backup center. He also has guard versatility though I’d only be comfortable playing him at the pivot.”
Barring any last-minute roster changes, Hassenauer is expected to be the Steelers’ backup center behind rookie Kendrick Green. He’s shown some improvement from a year ago, which comes as no surprise. 2020 was his first chance to log serious NFL playing time and though he looked overwhelmed at times, especially at guard, he didn’t make any massive mistakes.
Battling through a knee injury at the start of camp (he may still wear a brace/sleeve on his knee all season) Hassenauer returned to the lineup and saw consistent snaps as the backup center. All 128 of his preseason snaps came at center. B.J. Finney, who took some center reps in practice, didn’t have a single one in game action. That made Hassenuaer a safe bet to make the 53 and to be Green’s backup.
Far from the most important question, Hassenauer does give the Steelers one answer along its offensive line. Now it’s a matter of still determining who will be the starting five. With Zach Banner missing time in recent days, it’s still an open question of who the Steelers two offensive tackles will be and where they will play.