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: Would Kendrick Green start in the finale if he were not on the Reserve/COVID-19 List?
Prompted by a late-night exchange I had yesterday, I was inspired to ask this question that maybe only I would be interested in right now. Essentially it is this: All things being equal, would Kendrick Green be starting at center in the finale?
The rookie third-round draft pick started the first 15 games of the season, but he dealt with an injury last week that did not allow him to satisfactorily practice to prepare for a starting role. He dressed, but as an emergency reserve, with J.C. Hassenauer starting.
Green would have presumably, or at least possibly, been healthy enough to start this week, given that he was at least healthy enough to dress, but now he’s on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, and he’s not likely to quickly come off the way wide receiver Diontae Johnson just did.
Hassenauer helped pave the way for the Steelers’ best rushing effort of the season, and he played a part in generating more push along the offensive line. He had been injured for several weeks, as had B.J. Finney, prior to being activated for Week 16.
Because of the injuries the Hassenauer and Finney, Pittsburgh didn’t have any viable alternatives for players to start at center for much of the past two months or so, so even if they wanted to bench Green, they kind of couldn’t.
It was a situation similar to that of Devin Bush’s, with player availability (including his own) making it difficult to figure out what the depth chart would actually look like under normal circumstances. And so I ask again: All things being equal, would the Steelers decide to start Green for this finale, or would somebody else (most likely Hassenauer) be starting?