Zach Banner doesn’t yet know if he’s playing Sunday afternoon against the Denver Broncos. But Banner made it clear he’s ready to go.
13 months removed from his last regular season game, Banner told reporters Thursday his body finally feels healthy enough to take the field.
“I want to play,” Banner said via video provided by the team. “I’m ready to play.”
Banner suffered a torn ACL in the team’s 2020 opener, ending his season barely before it began. He’s been rehabbing ever since. The team eased his way into action this summer during training camp and Banner played his first in-game snaps in the third preseason contest against the Detroit Lions. But he failed to make the trip to Carolina for the Steelers’ finale and was placed on IR before the Week 1 opener. Banner wouldn’t get into the details of the injury but said it was a “setback” of the ACL tear.
“I’m not allowed to talk about what happened, but you can call it a setback…I said that we expect to be back by Week 1. I wasn’t. And it’s not me. It’s not coaches. It’s my body. It’s the coaches telling me that afterwards. That they want me to get right.”
Banner was designated for return last week opening up a 21-day window to get back on the 53. He practiced in some capacity but was not activated for the team’s Week 4 loss to the Green Bay Packers. The Steelers will have until Saturday afternoon to decide if he’ll be activated this week. If he does, he’ll likely get the start at right tackle. If he isn’t, then either Chukwuma Okorafor, returning from a concussion, or veteran Joe Haeg, will get the nod.
For Banner, the next couple of days, how his body responds to the work he’s putting in, will determine if and when the team activates him.
“I just had a really good practice. I’s not so much about having a good practice. We had okay practices, good practices during camp. But it’s the next day, right? Like it’s just how [my body feels] the next day after that. It’s the next day after that. And I have to be reliable. I think that’s the biggest thing that you have to realize.”