PITTSBURGH — Steelers right tackle Chuks Okorafor likely thought he would start for the rest of the season. But after the Jaguars game, that was not the case. Instead, the Steelers turned to Broderick Jones, their promising rookie, to start against the Titans. Jones played well, but what led to the entire incident where Okorafor was benched? He says it was due to an on-field incident 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.”
Jones said he did not know if it was a one-off but would play quarterback if the team wanted him to do that. But more importantly, he found out on Tuesday, and Mike Tomlin told him, and Jones would not object to what his head coach told him.
“When Coach T tells you to do something, you don’t ask questions,” Jones said.
Tomlin wanted to see a ‘spark’ from the offense at some point. For him, that is why Okorafor got benched for Jones, who ended up playing at a high level for the team. Pittsburgh found a formula with Jones as a run blocker, and he shut down Harold Landry on the edge.
“I just thought we needed a spark,” Tomlin said. “I thought Broderick had worked hard and was deserving of the opportunity, so we gave it to him.”
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. Okorafor has played better than left tackle Dan Moore Jr. all season, but with Okorafor entering the last year of his contract next season, it seems likely that they want to see if Moore can give them more next year.