It turned out to be a wonderful time for the Pittsburgh Steelers to have a bye week. After many of us originally complained about this team having an early Week 6 bye, the Steelers were decimated with injuries early in the season. Now many of these players are looking healthy and ready to go for Week 7 against the Los Angeles Rams.
After Diontae Johnson insisted that he would be playing in Week 7, we learned that Pittsburgh should also have Pat Freiermuth back this week. However, the return of one starter is already being met with plenty of controversy.
On Monday afternoon Nick Farabaugh of Steelers Now confirmed that Dan Moore Jr. was back in practice following an MCL sprain that sidelined him for most of Week 4 and all of Week 5. However, Moore isn't just back at practice, the veteran is back to earning first-team reps at left tackle.
While we all wish for healthy players across the board, this isn't exactly the news that anyone wanted to hear. In Moore's absence, the Steelers finally turned to first-rounder, Broderick Jones. The 14th overall pick was thoroughly impressive in his first start against the Baltimore Ravens just before the bye week. He stonewalled Jadeveon Clowney and showed incredible anchoring ability in pass protection.
Steelers cannot go back to Dan Moore Jr. as the starting LT
Broderick Jones is so early in his NFL career that we know there are going to be bumps in the road and struggles along the way. Still, we would much rather deal with those as they come rather than go back to a tackle who has had years to prove himself but has never been very good.
Moore was easily having the worst season of his NFL career prior to the MCL injury. Now in Year 3 with plenty of starting experience already under his belt, it's unreasonable to expect him to get much better.
We know that Pittsburgh drafted Jones to be the left tackle of the future, and just when it's looking like he is showing signs of being that guy, the Steelers could go back to valuing veterans over more talented rookies. They have done this on the defensive side of the ball all season as well -- favoring an unspectacular Levi Wallace at cornerback over a vastly more talented Joey Porter Jr.
Mike Tomlin has not yet come out and declared that Moore will resume his starting role that he had prior to the injury. This isn't guaranteed to happen, but we should learn something in his Tuesday press conference. Perhaps he wait to see how things play out this week during practice.
I'm glad that Moore is back to practicing, and it's always good to have added depth along the offensive line. However, I think we can all agree that benching Broderick Jones for Dan Moore Jr. is just a bad decision at this point.