Heading into the season, the Steelers offensive line was seen as a major weakness of the team. The unit had undergone a transformation in the off-season due to the retirements of veteran stars Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro as well as Matt Feiler and Alejandro Villanueva leaving via free agency.
The Steelers front office made a few reinforcements through the draft. Naturally, the line would endure some growing pains in generating chemistry up-front. Through five games, the OL has had its ups-and-downs, but does seem to be making progress.
Chukwuma Okorafor illustrated just those inconsistencies Sunday against the Broncos. He had two penalties in the game, but helped hold superstar Von Miller to no quarterback hits or sacks. With Zach Banner nearing return from injury, it’s a problem teams love to have as coach Mike Tomlin talked about Tuesday.
”There’s nothing wrong with having more than five capable, ready men,” he said in his weekly media press conference. “Those are the type of problems that you want to have.”
Banner suffered a torn ACL in Week 1 against the Giants in the 2020 season. Presumed by many as the starter heading into this season, Banner went through a setback in the preseason and now nears a return to the team. While he seems intent on being ready, Tomlin didn’t seem so sure.
”Ready is not a problem. I’m not going to make a negative out of him perceiving that he’s ready or him being ready. I look forward to the day that we’re managing that [five men being ready]. I’d rather have six than to have four.”
Banner will certainly have to fight for a spot with Okorafor and rookie Dan Moore Jr. stepping up their game recently. A starting spot for him is far from guaranteed and he may work as that sixth lineman for the Steelers.
With that, Tomlin’s comments make it seem as if Banner isn’t exactly game-ready or ready to be brought back from the Injured Reserve. Banner was activated from the IR on Sept. 29th, so the Steelers have one more week to put him on the active roster.