PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pro Bowl selection David DeCastro will lead the offensive line which returns four of its five starters from 2020 and is looking to pave the path for the Steelers backfield in 2020.
With four positions all but set, right tackle remains in the air as training camp nears in Pittsburgh.
Here’s who the Steelers could pull from to mold their offensive line:
John Keenoy, 1st Season
J.C. Hassenauer, 1st Season
Maurkice Pouncey, 11th Season
Kevin Dotson, Rookie (Louisiana)
Anthony Coyle, 1st Season
Christian DiLauro, 1st Season
Derwin Gray, 1st Season
Chukwuma Okorafor, 3rd Season
Zach Banner, 4th Season
Alejandro Villanueva, 6th Season
Christian Montano, Rookie (Tulane)
Jarron Jones, 1st Season
Matt Feiler, 4th Season
David DeCastro, 9th Season
Stefen Wisniewski, 10th Season
Projected ‘Starters on Sundays’: Maurkice Pouncey (Center), David DeCastro (Guard), Alejandro Villanueva (Tackle) and Matt Feiler (Guard/Tackle)
Pouncey returns, and so does his partner under center, Ben Roethlisberger. After a rotating quarterback carousel in 2020, a healthy Roethlisberger could go a long way for Pouncey who enters his 11th season in the NFL.
Five-time pro bowl star David DeCastro (right guard) and two-time Pro Bowler Alejandro Villanueva (left tackle) return to provide solidarity the line, which allowed just 32 sacks last year, enough for 9th fewest in the NFL.
Matt Feiler presents a useful trait for coach Mike Tomlin, he’s able to play guard and tackle.
After being moved from guard to tackle, Tomlin has shifted Feiler back to the left guard spot for camp, leaving a hole to fill at right tackle with the retirement of 11-year man Ramon Foster: enter Zach Banner and Chukwuma Okorafor.
Battling for a Spot:
Both guys have different talents, but neither will have a place to showcase them without preseason games. Banner is in his fourth season, spending time with three teams so far, where Okorafor enters his third overall with the Steelers.
Gameday experience could be a factor in this battle as both started just one game in 2019, but Okorafor saw time in 13 games in 2018.
In 2019, Banner was also reported as an eligible receiver multiple times, despite never being targeted through the air, could this be a trick up Tomlin’s sleeve?
Banner joked about not receiving a pass from quarterback Devlin Hodges during his appearance on KDKA’s Living Room Sports in May.
Tomlin will be keeping a close eye on the Banner/Okorafor battle for right tackle.
Reserves: Stefen Wisniewski (lineman) Kevin Dotson (lineman)
With the ongoing battle for right tackle, the one who loses out will end up a reliable reserve alongside two-time Super Bowl champion Wisniewski and rookie Kevin Dotson, who remains unsigned as of July 22.
Wisniewski, coming off a from a Super Bowl victory with Kansas City, now returns home. The Penn State and Pittsburgh Central Catholic alum has experience with four different teams dating back to 2011 when he was picked 48th overall by the Oakland Raiders. He brings experience and strength off the sideline to an already deep line for 2020.
Dotson will need to prove himself in the NFL, but the fourth-round pick was a two-time All-Sun Belt team recipient with the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns squad.
Three others could find a spot on the practice squad: J.C. Hassenauer (center), Christian DiLauro (tackle) and Derwin Gray (tackle).
The offensive line has filled out despite the loss of Foster, and Tomlin should have plenty of options once the season kicks off and position battles begin to settle.