PITTSBURGH — Throughout the Steelers’ preseason, the main attraction in every single game has undoubtedly been the offensive line. First, it was mostly a concern with the unit’s health, as Zach Banner, Kevin Dotson and Chukwuma Okorafor all missed time. There was also the matter of who would start at center, with rookie Kendrick Green vying with veteran J.C. Hassenauer.
Against the Lions, the first-team line finally got their first in-game action against another team. The line is finally healthy, and Banner got his first action of the entire preseason. In their first showing, the Steelers’ offensive line was fine. There are still causes for concern, but the upstart Banner was especially happy with what he saw from the unit throughout the night.
“This offensive line has gotten a lot of flak for a little bit, but everybody is doing really well,” Banner said. “I think people are starting to take it serious from now on, but it doesn’t really matter. It matters about the ones doing what the ones are supposed to do, twos doing what the ones are supposed to do, threes doing what the ones are supposed to do. Whoever’s in, the standard is the standard as Coach [Tomlin] says, and that’s the mentality we need have for the o-line no matter what adversity we go through.”
From the man himself, Tomlin was seemingly pleased with what he saw out of his offensive line. At the very least, Tomlin loved the aggressiveness his big guys brought to the table upfront. For Tomlin, the emphasis was on finishing, and he especially thought he saw that on Saturday.
“I just thought in general, I thought that they really finished,” Tomlin said. “It seemed like our pile was falling in the direction that we desire for it to fall. I thought guys were finishing with great effort, there were examples of that. You saw 79 [Rashaad Coward] down the field finishing the block. You saw 53 [Green] on several occasions really finishing. Hopefully, that’s a catalyst for us as we move forward.”
With a new offense, the Steelers will still have another week of practice and another preseason game before they travel to Buffalo for their week one game. The offensive line certainly has its ups and downs. There are lots of positives and negatives to take away from the first three games, but there is also clearly room for growth. Having upside over the season is always a good thing.