The Steelers’ completely renovated offensive line came into training camp this season as a series of questions, as the team replaced or moved all five starters from 2020.
• Would Chukwuma Okorafor be able to make the switch to the more-demanding left tackle spot?
• Would Kevin Dotson be able to replicate the promise he showed in a small sample in 2020 and overcome concerns about his offseason conditioning?
• Would Kendrick Green be able to make the switch from guard to center and be a solid contributor as a day-one starter as a third-round draft pick?
• Would Trai Turner return to at least some semblance of the form he had before his injury-marred 2020 season?
• Would Zach Banner be able to return from his knee injury, healthy and in shape, to be able to stand up to the toll of a full season of work?
None of those questions had slam-dunk answers either way, and while it seemed unlikely that they’d all go against the Steelers, it seemed just as unlikely that every single piece of that puzzle would break the right way.
A colleague of mine compared it to a five-team parlay. None of the individual games had particularly bad odds, but the idea that all five would hit, well … that’s why parlays have long odds.
Now, with one week still to go before the first week of the Steelers’ season, that parlay ticket is already in the trash.
Banner was one of three Steelers placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, either not yet healthy from his surgery or having suffered some type of setback. It appears that in his absence, Okorafor will move back from left tackle to right, which is not exactly a strong endorsement for the play of the only guy on the line that started for this team last year.
Instead, it will be rookie Dan Moore Jr. guarding Ben Roethlisberger’s blind side in Buffalo Week 1.
Moore has promise. He improved throughout training camp after spending the first few weeks losing nearly every single rep against Alex Highsmith and Melvin Ingram. But he was a fourth-round pick for a reason. There are holes to his game and limits to his physical ability. He’ll be just another question mark.
With a 39-year-old starting quarterback, and a new offense that at least in theory will offer him less schematic protection, the Steelers don’t exactly have the luxury of finding out the answers the hard way.
News and notes from around the Pittsburgh Steelers and the National Football League.
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🏈 2019 Joe Haden discussed his new contract extension. Saunders
🏈 1948 NFL Hall of Famer and former Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw was born in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Bradshaw was the Steelers’ first-round pick in the 1970 NFL Draft and became the franchise’s most decorated quarterback. He won four Super Bowls with the team and was twice named Super Bowl MVP. He was also named NFL MVP and a first-team All-Pro in 1978. Bradshaw was a three-time Pro Bowler, led the NFL in passing yards twice and was Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year in 1979.
He is a member of the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team, the Steelers All-Time Team and Hall of Honor, the Louisiana Tech Hall of Fame and the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.
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