PITTSBURGH — Broderick Jones found out on Tuesday that he would get thrust into a starting job that he did not know he would have. Not only was it not at his native left tackle position, but Jones was shifting sides to play at right tackle. Starter Chuks Okorafor was benched for on-field actions against the Jaguars.
“It was just something I said,” Okorafor said. “You know, just with the way the game was going last week, I said something I shouldn’t have said. Just being in year six, I can’t act out the way I was acting out. It was mostly that and nothing else. I don’t know what’s going to happen next week. I hope I’m going to be out there with the guys, but I don’t know, it’s not my call.”
But after the way Broderick Jones played on Thursday night against the Titans, Okorafor might not get his job back. Jones allowed just one pressure all night while sparking the run game to its best season performance. The one avenue for Okorafor to get back into the lineup is Dan Moore Jr. getting benched and Jones shifting back to the left side. Still, Pittsburgh might commit to Jones on the right side for now, allowing him to blossom as a player on the field in one specific area to start to his career.
“I just like to play football, man,” Jones said. “They can put at quarterback if they want…either side, it’s not that much different for me. I feel like I can play on either side.”
Jones has now impressed in two games, including his start against the Ravens at left tackle. It seems likely he will now enter the starting rotation full-time, but exactly where remains a mystery. But one thing is clear, and it’s that the team’s first-round pick is playing at a high level, and that is with obvious technical deficiencies still in his game. It’s not everything and a larger sample size is needed, but it appears the Steelers have what they bargained for when they traded up to draft Jones at 14th overall.
“There’s a little bit of difference with your hands and feet,” Jones said. “I never really had to play on the right side, but it’s not a huge adjustment for me.”
Through his first two starts, Jones has just two pressures allowed. His growth in multiple areas over his limited playing time is encouraging growth from a rookie. The Steelers hope they have found a cornerstone along the offensive line, and while Jones has not proven that just yet, his early returns are encouraging for offensive line coach Pat Meyer and the staff.