The Pittsburgh Steelers’ new-look offensive line, or at least the first incarnation of it, debuted on Sunday in the regular-season opener against the Buffalo Bills. It was enough to get the job done, but there was a lot of meat left on the bone in terms of room for improvement.
With two rookie starters, a second-year starter, a veteran looking to bounce back, and a player who has previously been a backup, this group has a lot to prove, not just to the team, to the fans, to the league, but also to themselves. It’s probably a good thing, then, that Zach Banner says they’re their own worst critics.
“I see nothing but greatness in terms of the way that the guys want to be”, the former projected starter at right tackle said on 93.7 The Fan yesterday. “They’re gonna be hard on themselves in the film session. They’re gonna be hard on themselves watching themselves in the game, just because you prepare perfectly and you prepare to be perfect, and if you’re not, there’s always something to learn from”.
Banner is in his fifth season, and fourth with the Steelers. This is the second season in which he was projected to be the starter at right tackle. He did start the season opener a year ago, only to suffer a torn ACL. He is on the Reserve/Injured List still rehabbing that knee injury, with week four being the earliest that he can return. When he does, it is not clear what that will do to the lineup.
Chukwuma Okorafor is starting in his place, as he did last year. The former was projected to start at left tackle, but rookie Dan Moore Jr. is playing there. Another rookie, Kendrick Green, is at center, while Kevin Dotson at left guard is in year two. Trai Turner, a five-time Pro Bowler with an injury history, was signed to replace David DeCastro.
Everybody along the offensive line flashes at time or two during the regular-season opener, and did so against a quality opponent in the Bills with a strong defensive line. But their play-to-play consistency was highly lacking as they still learn to function as a unit. But growing through a win is the way to do it.
“It’s a good win on the road, but at the same time, it’s just like, we’ve got to look at it critically and then get things fixed”, Banner said, “because that’s all Las Vegas has on their film, is the stuff that we’ve done wrong, and the stuff that we’ve done right, so we’ve got to make sure we’re perfect”.
The Raiders defeated the Baltimore Ravens earlier this week, albeit at home and in an overtime comeback in a game in which it seemed nobody wanted to win. The state of Baltimore’s offensive line may be even more precarious than Pittsburgh’s based on how Las Vegas’ defensive line went after them—at least, we must hope.