Steelers could have a shakeup on their offensive line before Bills game

Dan Moore Jr. #65 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Dan Moore Jr. #65 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a bit of a dilemma at the offensive tackle position. Here’s how the new changes could affect them early in the season. 

In 2020, the offensive line was a huge issue for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only did Ben Roethlisberger not have enough time to throw the football before the pocket collapsed, but the run blocking was abysmal, as the team finished dead last in the league in rushing yards and yards per attempt.

The Steelers are hoping for much better results in 2021. After drafting running back Najee Harris in the first round this past April, Pittsburgh selected a pair of offensive linemen in the mid-rounds and signed former Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner in free agency. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet seen the fruits of these investments.

During the preseason, Pittsburgh’s offensive line failed to get any push on the ground, and the projected starters had just a handful of snaps together this summer. Now it looks like things just got a bit more concerning.

Mark Kaboly of The Athletic reports that the Steelers have made a change to their starting offensive line in practice. Recently, projected starting left tackle, Chukwuma Okorafor has been practicing at right tackle, while rookie Dan Moore Jr. has taken his place at left tackle. Zach Banner has not been practicing, and there are concerns that he might not be ready to go for the season-opener.

What this change means for Steelers OL

Obviously,  we were hoping that the Steelers offensive line would be healthy to begin the season, but it’s looking like they could be without Banner against the Buffalo Bills in Week 1. The recent change at practice gives us cause for concern but it could also be better in some ways.

Zach Banner doesn’t have a big sample size of game action, but we expected him to be one of the cogs in the offensive line that got the wheels churning on the ground. His size and physicality were supposed to give Pittsburgh’s rushing attack a boost this year.

We’ve seen Okorafor at right tackle for essentially a whole season (15 games last year), and it wasn’t pretty. Not only did Chuks struggle in pass protection, but he also had trouble handling defensive ends in the running game. With another year of experience under his belt and turning just 24 years old this summer, we obviously hope this can improve.

If the Steelers are forced to enter the season with Dan Moore and Chukwuma Okorafor as their starting tackles, this may not be all bad, however. When at left tackle this preseason, Dan Moore graded out as one of the best tackles during exhibition action. Meanwhile, Okorafor already has experience at right tackle and could potentially be an improvement over Banner in terms of pass protection.

Trending. 3 positions Steelers will likely try to improve after final roster cuts. light

It’s still unclear how much time (if any) Banner will miss at the beginning of the season, but the fact that the Steelers have shuffled their starting offensive tackles around in practice makes me think that they are preparing to play without him.