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Trai Turner Credits Dan Moore Jr. For ‘Stepping Up To Challenge’ Of Playing Left Tackle As A Rookie

It wasn’t always pretty, and it certainly wasn’t always successful, but Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie left tackle Dan Moore Jr. more than held his own throughout his first season in the NFL having been thrust into the starting lineup just days before kickoff in Week 1 in Buffalo.

Since that day, Moore Jr. has had his fair share of growing pains, but he’s also shown real flashes of promise at left tackle after being a fourth-round pick by the Steelers in the 2021 NFL Draft out of Texas A&M.

In 1,079 snaps over 16 starts (Moore Jr. missed the final game of the season against the Baltimore Ravens with a high ankle sprain), Moore Jr. helped provide protection to Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side, dealt with multiple injuries at left guard that forced him to work with multiple guards while on an island, and more than held his own. Though he ranked outside the top 100 at tackle according to Pro Football Focus’s metrics with a grade of 57.4, Moore Jr. has caught the eye of some prominent veterans on the Steelers, including right guard Trai Turner, who spoke with the media Monday.

Turner, who played right guard all season and really only worked next to Moore Jr. during training camp when the rookie received some right tackle reps, said he was pleased with Moore’s ability to step up and answer the challenge of playing left tackle in the NFL as a rookie.

“It has been great to see him build a foundation. Just build a foundation on his fundamentals and just the continuous…work that he does each week. He doesn’t have a small job,” Turner said to reporters Monday, according to video via Steelers.com. “He has to go out there and go against some of the premier athletes in these edge rushers week to week, and I feel like he stopped up to that challenge. He just got better week-to-week, kept his head down and just worked. Wasn’t always perfect, wasn’t always pretty, but he got the job done. So I definitely think he’s something that the room [offensive line] could build around.”

Turner’s comments echoed those of one Ben Roethlisberger from a few weeks ago, in which Roethlisberger stated he believed Moore Jr. was the left tackle of the future for the Steelers.

Though he’s certainly had his struggles from a footwork, hand usage and identification standpoint, he did make improvements each and every week like Turner stated, which should be something the Steelers can look at, be encouraged by, and move forward with. He’s a big body that moves quite well and is a load in the run game. At the very least, he should be given the 2022 season to show he can hold down the job long-term, allowing the Steelers to focus on rebuilding elsewhere along the offensive line.

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