PITTSBURGH — Despite the fact that J.C. Hassenauer holds the top spot at center in the Steelers’ official depth chart, it’s been rookie Kendrick Green getting the starting nod in each of the team’s first two preseason games.
That looks to continue this Saturday, with Green working alongside Chukwuma Okorafor, Kevin Dotson, Trai Turner and Zach Banner on the first-team offensive line once again on Tuesday, the first time that five-some has been together this training camp.
When asked after practice on Tuesday, head coach Mike Tomlin said that he hadn’t noticed that was the first time for that particular alignment. Asked specifically if he expects Green to be the starter on Sept. 12 in Buffalo, he was a little bit less coy.
“You could surmise that,” Tomlin said. “But there will be no bold announcements.”
It was always likely that this is where Green would end up after the Steelers did little else do address the position this offseason following the retirement of Maurkice Pouncey.
But after taking the very first reps of camp with the first team, Green has done very little to show that he doesn’t deserve the role, playing with intensity and showing off his athleticism, even if there have been hiccups along the way.
Offensive coordinator Matt Canada was more elaborative about what the team has liked about Green, though he wouldn’t firmly confirm Green’s starting role, either.
“We’ve asked him to come in and be the center and replace the guys he’s replacing,” Canada said. “[Adrian] Klemm has done a great job with that. A little bit at a time. We feel good where he is right now. We’re gonna prep every day we can until we play the Bills.”
The last Steelers third-round pick to lock down a starting role in Week 1 of his rookie season came all the way back in 1978, when punter Craig Colquitt did it, and for a non-specialist, it’s even longer ago than that. But the Steelers feel they got a steal in Green.
“Right now, he’s right where we like him to be and he’s gotta keep getting better,” Canada said.