Zach Banner will have surgery on his right knee on Friday, he announced via Twitter on Tuesday evening.
Banner was injured in the fourth quarter of the Steelers’ season opener on Monday and did not return to the game. He is believed to have suffered an ACL injury and will miss the rest of the season.
The game was Banner’s first as the Steelers’ starting right tackle, a role he won after a lengthy training camp battle with Chukwuma Okorafor, who will now replace Banner.
“I just want everybody to stay optimistic and I appreciate you guys’ wishes and regards from not only teammates, but the love and support of fans and friends and family,” said Banner. “Everything’s going to be OK. I’m going to get over this. I’m very excited about my recovery. I’ll come back even stronger next season. It’s just another obstacle I’ve got to get over and I’m very excited to take on that challenge.”
— Zach Banner (@ZBNFL) September 15, 2020
Earlier on Tuesday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged the effort that Banner had put into winning the job as a starting tackle and said that he won’t be defined by this injury, but by how he responds to it.
“It can be a cold game, but it is a lot like life,” Tomlin said. “We are not defined by what happens to us, we are defined by how we respond to it. Whenever unfortunate events like that occurs, we talk openly about that. it’s not that he got injured after all that he has been through and the fight he has been through to get where he is, it is about what he does moving forward and responds to it. He is a competitor, he is a professional and I expect him to smile in the face of adversity.”
Recovery from ACL surgery usually takes at least six months. The ligament connects the shin bones and thigh bones within the knee. UPMC orthopedic surgeon Dr. Freddie Fu said in 2012 that modern surgically repaired ACLs are “very similar to the pre-injury knee.”