The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is underway, and they are hoping for a better outcome in comparison to last season. After starting out 11-0, they finished the year 1-4 in the regular season, and then lost in the Wildcard Round to the Cleveland Browns, ignited by a 0-28 first quarter.
They have lost a large number of key players in the offseason, like Maurkice Pouncey, Bud Dupree, Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, Mike Hilton, and Steven Nelson, but they’ve also made significant additions as the months have gone on, notably Trai Turner, Melvin Ingram, Joe Schobert, and Ahkello Witherspoon. They also added Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Kendrick Green, and Dan Moore Jr., all of whom look to be in a starting role (or complementary role in Freiermuth’s case) for the season opener.
There isn’t much left to do but to play the games at this point. They have a 53-man roster, though it will always change to some degree. They still have a lot to figure out, though, such as what Matt Canada’s offense is going to look like in any given week, or how the new-look secondary and offensive line is going to play.
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: Who will play at right tackle Sunday?
With the Steelers ruling out Chukwuma Okorafor for Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers, they find themselves shorthanded, to put it mildly. Rashaad Coward, who is a tackle-capable reserve, has also been ruled out for the game.
There are two options to replace him, in theory. It will either be Joe Haeg, or it will be Zach Banner, the man who was supposed to be the starter at right tackle since the beginning of last season, but who has only played one game since then due to an ACL injury.
Though he participated briefly in one preseason game, Banner failed to practice afterward, and was placed on the Reserve/Injured List to start the season. He began to practice this week, but it is unknown whether or not he will be activated and play for tomorrow’s game.
Haeg replaced Okorafor at right tackle late in this past week’s game after the latter suffered a concussion, which kept him out of practice and will cause him to miss the trip to Green Bay. While he began his career as a starter, he has been a backup most recently, but is clearly the more experienced of the top possibilities, and also isn’t coming back from a major knee injury.
Will Banner be ready to play after getting back to practice for just one week? We’ll find out soon enough, as the Steelers would have to activated him to the 53-man roster in order for him to be eligible to play in the game.