PITTSBURGH – The Steelers’ offensive line is in obvious need of above-the-line play as they enter the 2021 season. However, from left tackle to right tackle there are significant questions about everyone in the group. Whether that is just the relative unknown of their play at the NFL level or questions about injuries, they exist.
For Chuks Okorafor, perhaps the biggest question other than some up and down tape in 2020 is his switch from the right side to the left side and an early-camp absence that has held him out of most team periods so far.
Okorafor missed two weeks with an injury, but is back in the main group, penciled-in as the left tackle for the Week 1 matchup against the Buffalo Bills, and is feeling more comfortable in his shoes than ever before.
“I feel more at home on the left side,” Okorafor said.
He made his mark at left tackle during his career at Western Michigan. In fact, Okorafor only learned the right side so he could be the Steelers’ backup swing tackle. For Okorafor, the differences mechanically on both sides are vast, and he gave a peek into what some of those differences on the field are.
“Everything is different,” Okorafor said. “Body, mental, everything is different. You’ve got to figure it out. Do I punch with this hand or that hand? Do I kick? See what I’m saying? It’s kind of all different.”
Even with that in mind, however, Okorafor does not see much of a difference between right and left tackle aside from those mechanical differences. He believes in the modern NFL, those tackle positions are essentially the same.
“We have guys who are to rush against the left tackle, the right tackle,” Okorafor said. “Doesn’t really matter at this point. At least to me.”
With Okorafor finally getting into the groove of things and likely to suit up on Thursday against the Eagles, it is good news to hear he feels more comfortable in his new spot than he did last year. Whether that comes with added improvement has yet to be seen, but it will be vital to get solid play from Okorafor.