2021 South Side Questions: What Personnel Changes Could We Realistically See?

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 are starting.

There isn’t much left to do but to play the games at this point. Even if they play them poorly. 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: What personnel changes can we realistically see take place?

Regular readers and followers of the team already know what I’m talking about, so no need to waste too much real estate on the background. Head coach Mike Tomlin proposed that changes will take place, and suggested that personnel changes can be a part of that.

One change is already reflected on the depth chart, with Henry Mondeaux listed as the starting nose tackle over Isaiah Buggs, and Carlos Davis could be added to that list this week if he comes off of IR. He’s already been practicing; he just needs to be activated to the 53-man roster. They also signed a new nose tackle off of the Saints’ practice squad.

On the offensive side of the ball, the most realistic change would be at tackle, most likely involving Zach Banner moving to right tackle. Whether or not that kicks Chukwuma Okorafor to left tackle or leaves Dan Moore Jr. there, we don’t know. Joe Haeg could also factor there. Or he could start over B.J. Finney at left guard until Kevin Dotson gets back, though Finney is listed as the starter (with Dotson and J.C. Hassenauer on IR).

Other than those two spots, though, what else could we see? Tomlin did suggest that perhaps James Pierre could be in for a demotion if he doesn’t respond well from Sunday’s showing. Who would take his place? Ahkello Witherspoon did play, but he didn’t ordinarily get a helmet.

There’s not a long they can do at the skill positions. They can get Anthony McFarland involved. They could promote some of those practice squad wide receivers. Or they could demote/bench Devin Bush, which is harder since Robert Spillane is injured. Could Buddy Johnson play? Ulysees Gilbert III?

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