James Daniels Says New-Look Offensive Line ‘Looking Good So Far’

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman James Daniels went on Tim Benz’s Letters From Camp podcast and talked about the improvements the offensive line is making.

“Yeah, I mean everyone in the room. I mean, I see them every day. They’re always trying to improve and they’re always asking me questions or they’re asking other people’s questions or if I have a question, they answer them. So like so far, like everybody in the room they’ve been great. And they’ve, you can tell that they’re all obsessed with improving. I think it’s looking good so far. Everyone’s really hungry and I’m excited to keep on working with the guys,” Daniels said.

Pittsburgh needs to have an o-line that’s hungry and willing to improve. The line hasn’t been up to par the last few seasons, as core guys like David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster and Alejandro Villanueva left the team or retired. With a new, young group coming in, there wasn’t always that veteran leadership to rely on or help the young guys out. Despite being new to Pittsburgh, Daniels has shown that he can take on a leadership role, and guys like Chukwuma Okorafor or Kevin Dotson who have been in Pittsburgh for a few years now can help in that department.

Daniels was a much-needed signing as a guard who’s shown the ability to perform. On top of that, he seems like a guy who is willing to learn and is willing to help out and bond with his teammates. An offensive line group that wants to go out and play for one another and help a team play smashmouth football is going to be better than a disconnected group of five individuals. 

Across the board, the O-line has to be connected with guys at various positions, especially quarterback. Daniels played with Mitch Trubisky in Chicago, and he told Benz that Trubisky’s mobility is a plus.

“I look at Mitch, my rookie year, there was multiple times, I got beat and Mitch would scramble for 15-20 yards,” Dotson said.  “And those are chunk plays, those destroy a defense because when they focus on the quarterback running, that opens up other run games or that opens up the receivers. So it’s definitely different, it’s definitely something else that we can add to the offense to help us become more explosive.”

Ben Roethlisberger was never really a scrambler at quarterback, but he did have a remarkable ability to keep a play alive. Having a scrambler at quarterback would be nothing new for Pittsburgh, as both Michael Vick and Kordell Stewart have started games at quarterback for the team. No one on the current roster is really a scrambling quarterback, but having guys like Trubisky who can pick up yards on their feet when necessary is important and something Pittsburgh hasn’t necessarily had the last few years.

While Trubisky or Pickett may be able to gain a few yards with their legs, the Steelers won’t want to make a habit out of having a quarterback who they need to scramble. The O-line has to be able to keep the quarterback upright and give them a chance to make a play. That’s going to be key this year with a new quarterback starting and getting acclimated to a new-look offense. Offensive line play is going to be key this year, but I think Daniels and the rest of the line will be up to the challenge.

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