PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Zach Banner and running back Anthony McFarland Jr. are both healthy enough to play for the team on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed after practice on Friday.
But whether they will, and how much they’ll play if they do, remains up in the air.
Banner returned from the injured reserve list in Week 6 after missing the first part of the season after suffering a setback following ACL surgery that prematurely ended his 2020 season.
He was scratched for his first game back, something that Tomlin said was more about his health than his position on the depth chart. Chukwuma Okorafor has started 23 consecutive games at right tackle in place of Banner since his injury, and Tomlin acknowledged that the team has a decision to make.
“He is [ready],” Tomlin confirmed regarded Banner and said McFarland is “an option, certainly.”
The situation at running back is less fraught, as the Steelers usually use multiple backs and McFarland is not figured to be anything other than a backup to Najee Harris.
That’s not the case at tackle, where Banner beat Okorafor out for a role in consecutive training camps, but his return might unsettle and offensive line that feels like it has just started to gain some traction.
Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm has said that he only considers Banner to be an option at right tackle. Okorafor has obviously played both, but said he feels that left tackle is his more natural position. Moore, meanwhile, said he struggled in limited reps on the right side in training camp.
So the question is, which lineup is best: Moore-Okorfaor, Okarafor-Banner or Moore-Banner? It seems that the Steelers are still working through that at this time.