The Pittsburgh Steelers, particularly general manager Kevin Colbert, have spent some time this offseason offering a defense of their 2021 third-round draft pick, Kendrick Green, who was out of the starting lineup for the final handful of games at the end of last season.
Colbert insisted that Green was not benched in favor of J.C. Hassenauer, in spite of the fact that he was still dressing for those games, but rather he was simply not healthy enough to start, but they were comfortable enough with where he was to serve as an emergency option as an eighth lineman.
In other words, he was implying that Green would have still been starting at center had he not been hurt. Now, they’ve gone out and signed two free-agent linemen who can start at center, yet they continued to offer the same conversation about Green, all the while acknowledging that he can also play guard. So what exactly are we looking at with him going into year two? Will he be starting at center?
“I don’t think that’s the plan”, Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said in a recent chat session, unless Mason Cole is injured. Cole is one of the two linemen that they signed in free agency, who has said that he is most comfortable at center. James Daniels, whom most expect to start at right guard, also has starting experience at center.
That leaves just one interior offensive line position open, naturally, at left guard, where Kevin Dotson started the first half of last season before being injured and missing the rest of the year. B.J. Finney started there, got hurt, than Hassenauer started there, got hurt, and finally John Leglue finished up the year in that spot.
Dotson will be returning, of course, but he’s not exactly a proven veteran. That’s where Fittipaldo sees Green fitting in this summer—in a position battle with Dotson to start at left guard. At least those two. He didn’t mention Hassenauer or Leglue, but perhaps they’ll be involved, as well.
Now, is this anything revelatory or groundbreaking? No, it’s by and large what we’ve anticipated all along. And for what it’s worth, this is merely a reporter’s informed speculation, not anything based in fact—although he has presumably at least had the opportunity to see the line groupings during OTAs.
Ultimately, I do think that the coaches will give Green a chance to earn a starting job this year, including at center (and Cole would be an option at guard as well in the event that Green ultimately were to remain at center).
Do I think he’ll earn a starting job? Not really. But I’m not the sort to write off any player after his rookie year. He has limitations, but if he can work within them, he has some traits that would be appealing to have in the starting lineup, which Cole does not have.