It was only one week ago that we learned that Zach Banner would be the starting right tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Today we learn—per a report from Tom Pelissero, reporter for NFL Network—that the “initial” diagnosis for Banner is a torn ACL. Pelissero says that Banner will have an MRI to confirm the season-ending injury.
The initial diagnosis for #Steelers RT Zach Banner is a torn ACL, source said.
Banner’s face told the story. He’ll have an MRI to confirm the season-ending injury.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 15, 2020
Mike Tomlin on Zach Banner’s Injury
Notably, at his virtual press conference this afternoon Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin wasn’t willing to go so far as to rule Banner out long-term. He simply confirmed he would be “out” for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos.
Coach Tomlin said he doesn't have a lot of new information, but it's safe to rule Zach Banner out for Sunday.
— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) September 15, 2020
But when you consider that Stefen Wisniewski suffered a pectoral injury last night—and that starting right guard David DeCastro has been out with a knee issue—the Steelers may soon be testing the depth of their offensive line.
Asked about that in his press conference, Tomlin reaffirmed that he regards Chuks Okorafor as “starter capable,” a good sign in that Okorafor is likely to replace Banner in the starting lineup on Sunday.
But if rookie Kevin Dotson has to start on Sunday, that would be “another story,” Tomlin said, noting there would be “some angst there,” and that the coaches would have to work hard to put him in the best position to succeed. That’s not an indictment of Dotson’s ability, just an acknowledgement that he is a rookie who missed a large part of training camp with an injury of his own.
David DeCastro’s Status
As for the prospect of David DeCastro returning to the lineup at right guard, Tomlin said today that he doesn’t know where DeCastro stands yet, adding that he is “hopeful that he is able to work tomorrow. We’ll see.”
James Conner’s Injury
Meanwhile, the outlook for Steelers starting running back James Conner appears to be favorable.
Per ESPN Senior NFL Insider Adam Schefter, Conner suffered a sprained ankle in last night’s game and the Steelers are optimistic about the prospects for a “timely return.”
Steelers’ RB James Conner suffered a sprained ankle tonight that will be examined Tuesday, but the team is, in the words of a source, “optimistic for a timely return.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 15, 2020
Anyway, second-string running back Benny Snell Jr. filled in quite capably for Conner last night, carrying the ball 19 times for 113 yards, an average of 5.9 yards per carry.
But at the moment, most of the concern surrounds Zach Banner, who has become a fan favorite, not only because of his underdog status, but because he is exceptionally engaging on social media.
Zach Banner worked so damn hard. Lost weight. Battled every day. Shut off social media, a place where the incredibly gregarious young man loved to engage. I sure hope those tears were premature. #Steelers
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) September 15, 2020
For one, Banner attracted a lot of attention this summer thanks to his ‘hulkish’ re-creation of scenes from the hit 1983 film Flashdance, including its iconic dance scene. Then there was this sick burn of the Cleveland Browns on Twitter. He has also won over fans for being one of the few NFL players who condemned the anti-Semitic sentiments expressed by Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, and has since teamed with the Jewish community to fight hate.
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