Steelers right tackle Zach Banner returned to practice on Wednesday, the first day he was eligible to do so.
Banner was placed on the injured reserve list before the Steelers’ season opener with a right knee injury. Players must miss at least three weeks of practices and games before returning to work.
Banner remains on the injured reserve list for now. He can spend up to an additional three weeks practicing while on injured reserve. At that point, the Steelers have elevate him to the active roster, or he must remain on injured reserve for the rest of the 2021 season.
Banner injured his knee in the 2020 season opener against the New York Giants and required ACL surgery. He returned on a limited basis this training camp and played in one preseason game, but did not practice again after doing so before being placed on the injured reserve list. It’s unclear if Banner suffered some type of setback in his recovery or if he injured his knee in a different way.
With Banner out, the Steelers moved Chukwuma Okorafor from left tackle to right tackle and elevated rookie Dan Moore Jr. to the starting lineup. Okorafor also replaced Banner after his injury in 2020.
Okorafor suffered a concussion during the Steelers’ Week 3 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and remains in the NFL concussion protocol. His status for this week’s game is uncertain.
If both Banner and Okorafor remain out, Joe Haeg would be expected to start at right tackle. Haeg, a fifth-year NFL player in his first season with the team, replaced Okorafor for the fourth quarter on Sunday.