Steelers Host 5-Time Pro Bowl Lineman: Report

Trai Turner

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images Trai Turner during an NFL game on August 22, 2015.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of questions surrounding the makeover of their offensive line, and this week’s mandatory minicamp may not have yielded the kind of answers they were hoping for.

This perhaps explains why the Steelers reportedly hosted five-time Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner on Friday, this according to ESPN’s senior NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Turner Earned Pro Bowl Honors For Five Consecutive Seasons

Trai Turner, 28, entered the NFL in 2014 as a third-round pick of the Carolina Panthers, having played his college ball at LSU. He started nine games as a rookie and went on to be named to five straight Pro Bowls, (2015-19), during which time he never started fewer than 13 games in any given year.

Yet in March 2020 he was traded to the Los Angeles Chargers in exchange for offensive tackle Russell Okung (who himself is a free agent and was recently linked to the Steelers before he publicly dismissed the possibility of signing with Pittsburgh).

But Turner—6 foot-3 and 315 pounds—was limited to nine games last year due to a groin injury, and Pro Football Focus (PFF) rated him as the second-lowest-graded guard, ahead of only Shane Lemieux of the New York Giants. (By way of comparison, PFF had him as its 34th-ranked guard in 2019.)

He was released by the Chargers in March.

Pittsburgh’s Offensive Line Remains in Flux

In minicamp the Steelers had second-year man Kevin Dotson running with the first team at left guard, with free agent acquisition Rashaad Coward the first-teamer at right guard. (Perennial Pro Bowler David DeCastro, who is entering the last year of his contract, did not practice during minicamp).

The Steelers have at least four other linemen who are capable of playing guard, but for the moment at least, B.J. Finney, J.C. Hassenauer and rookie third-round pick Kendrick Green (Illinois) are competing at center. Free agent acquisition Joe Haeg (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) has experience at both guard and tackle.

Meanwhile, the team is arguably no more settled at offensive tackle than it is at guard. Zach Banner, who is coming off an ACL tear suffered last September, is the presumptive starter at right tackle, while fourth-year player Chuks Okorafor is penciled in at left tackle. The Steelers also have five offensive tackles signed to one-year Reserve/Future contracts, plus 2021 fourth-round pick Dan Moore Jr. (Texas A&M).

The team needs to replace three starters from last year’s offensive line, including center Maurkice Pouncey (who retired in February) and longtime left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who went to the Baltimore Ravens in free agency. The Steelers also lost Matt Feiler, who signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Los Angeles Chargers.

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Also Read:
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