Steelers’ brass amazed by early returns from overhauled offensive line despite youth and inexperience

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It was only one game, but the Steelers’ coaches and managers were very pleased with the performance of their revamped young offensive line, with rookie center Kendrick Green and rookie left tackle Dan Moore Jr. best attacking in 2021.

Pittsburgh was the worst ground team in the NFL a year ago and has also suffered a lot from a pass protection standpoint, with Ben Roethlisberger tossing the ball faster than any other quarterback, averaging some lowest aerial yards in the league and passing more frequently than anyone else (almost always out of the shotgun). New offensive coordinator Matt Canada is striving to achieve a better balance in 2021, and while the running game remained largely a work in progress against the Bills in Buffalo, overall the organization had l feel that the unit had improved compared to the aging and fragile group that limped until the last season.

The signing of veteran goalkeeper Trai Turner has already been announced to the squad, taking back the leadership lost by the retirement of longtime center Maurkice Pouncey. Turner has become something of a captain for a very young and inexperienced line, team sources said, adding a much-needed element to a five-man unit that had never played together before.

Green is tenacious and fiery, exuding physique in a way that has already drawn internal comparisons to Pouncey, whistling and ready to look for blocks all over the court. The Steelers were also very pleased with the development of Moore, who held up well to the Bills’ pass rush and inspired more confidence every week during training camp and preseason.

Zach Banner, the projected starting left tackle from Pittsburgh, has continued to fight injury and still needs more time to recover from an ACL injury he suffered in Week 1 of last season. Sources said it was probably at least several weeks before he was ready for a comeback, but at this point it might not be necessary to make a change if the unit continues to move in that direction.

Roethlisberger has also gotten more vocal given the youth and inexperience of this group, with several players and coaches noting this growing dynamic without Pouncey to help diagnose and call everything from the center position. The line was undoubtedly a major cause for concern during the offseason, and there is plenty of football to be played, but so far Pittsburgh makers have been in awe of what they’ve seen.

Can Big Ben regain glory? Will Najee Harris rush for 1,000 yards in his rookie season? Get the latest Steelers scoop from Bryan DeArdo, our local expert who is on the pitch in Pittsburgh, in download the CBS Sports app. If you already have the app, add the Steelers to your favorites to get the latest news.


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