PITTSBURGH — The Steelers’ backup center question looms over the offensive line room despite the room being much improved. In the first two preseason games, the centers getting the most snaps were Mason Cole and Kendrick Green. Spencer Anderson tossed his hat into the ring against the Bills but only played the last drive there, with Green manning it for most of the game.
But Green’s woes continued against the Bills. It culminated with shaky snaps and Green getting blown back into the backfield too often. Following the game, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin addressed Green’s play, and he was not complimentary of what he saw on the field.
“Not good enough,” Tomlin said of his performance. “Routine things routinely is what we expect, and it doesn’t get any more fundamental than C/Q exchanges.”
Now, it seems the team could experiment with other ideas against the Falcons. Anderson could see more time. Indeed, Green will play more. However, one name not in the equation yet is guard Nate Herbig. Herbig suffered a shoulder injury before the Bills game and did not play. He started getting significant snaps during training camp before the injury. Now, after a limited practice on Tuesday, his status is up in the air for Thursday’s clash against Atlanta, but he hopes to play to get some snaps at center.
“If I am going to play center in a game, I don’t want the first time to be Week 1 against San Francisco,” Herbig said.
It seems unlikely that Green will make the final roster, and for good reason. The experiment has not worked out for many reasons, and his play this preseason gives the team no confidence that he could step in if Cole gets injured. On the other hand, no one else has stepped up to fill the void that would make them comfortable, either. Thursday needs to be a game where the Steelers come out of it with some semblance of security in the future of their backup center position.
Herbig, Anderson, and Green should all play. Is the answer James Daniels scooting over? That is all possible. But the pro scouts will be watching other games closely to scour the waiver wire market for potential options there, too. It seems extremely likely that the Steelers will make an outside addition to consolidate the offensive line depth. For a team so predicated on the run game and keeping Kenny Pickett healthy, it’s a necessary step. They need answers at backup center, and figure out what the defined plan at the spot will be.