PITTSBURGH — The Steelers have a left tackle controversy brewing. After Broderick Jones balled out against the Ravens in their 17-10 win over their arch-rival, many assumed that the Steelers would let Jones play for the rest of the season. However, incumbent starter Dan Moore Jr. is ready to return from an MCL sprain he suffered against the Rams. On Monday, he confirmed that he worked with the first-team offense. Moore does not know if that move is permanent, but it is what happened on Monday.
“Yeah, I was a little bit limited still, but feeling good,” Moore said.
When questioned on just how much he might play in the future, Moore remained unsure of that. The Steelers have shown a lot of restraint in playing rookies this year, even when some have impressed. That means that Jones is not guaranteed to get the starting job back, but Moore is not sure that his first team status is something that will continue throughout the week.
“I wouldn’t say that (Jones is relegated to backup),” Moore said. “An injury like that, it’s unexpected. You don’t really know what’s going to happen. I’m just showing up and going to work.”
Moore was impressed by Jones’ play against the Ravens. Jones has to work on hand usage, but that will only come with experience. Moore’s potential return to the lineup is curious, but offensive line coach Pat Meyer said last week that the team is taking it slow with Jones. He’s a young, raw player who they know will get better, but there is some trepidation to throw him to the wolves.
“He’s a really young football player. So, he’s going to get better, has to get better,” Meyer said. “I don’t just give him a ton of stuff each week, it’s more two or three things to work each week. So, yes, that hand usage is something he can work on. You know, punch timing, not bending over and getting overextended through his punch, placement. Those are all things he is working on.”
Jones will have to focus on his hand usage to take that next leap as a player in the NFL. However, some of his reps in this game were encouraging that his technique is starting to come along. His run blocking is ready to play at a starter level now, and he’s a problem when out in space. If his pass protection comes along quicker than everyone thought, that’s a testament to his development and coachability.
Moving forward, there should be little reason for the Steelers not to start Jones. He has proven he can at least hang at the NFL level. The ups and downs will come naturally, but Jones has the upward trajectory strapped to him now. The Steelers need to continue seeing that growth over the rest of the season, even if Moore is ready to return.