On Tuesday afternoon, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin fielded questions from reporters in the wake of the team’s public practice at Heinz Field. Asked if rookie third-round pick Kendrick Green is “the guy” at the center position, Tomlin said, “Ah, you could surmise that, but there will be no bold announcements.”
The question was no doubt prompted by Green’s return to practice (after two consecutive excused absences), and the fact that he was running with the first-team offensive line, which included Chuks Okorafor at left tackle, Kevin Dotson at left guard, Trai Turner at right guard and Zach Banner at right tackle.
Tomlin didn’t sound overly excited at the prospect of starting Green from the get-go, perhaps because he’s aware that there will be challenges, even if the 2021 third-round pick is largely successful.
During Tuesday’s practice, Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted that Green was “struggling a bit” with Steelers nose tackle Tyson Alualu, who, it should be noted, was recently named as one of the 32 best defensive linemen in the NFL by Pro Football Focus.
Also, consider this play from last week’s preseason game against Philadelphia, when Green was bull-rushed into quarterback Mason Rudolph by Eagles defensive lineman T.Y. McGill.
On the other hand, it’s already clear that the Steelers see Green as the future at the position, something that has never been said about last year’s backup, J.C. Hassenauer, who is still listed as the first-teamer on the training camp depth chart, ahead of Green and third-stringer B.J. Finney.
Of course, Green has very big shoes to fill, as former center Maurkice Pouncey made the Pro Bowl in nine of his ten NFL seasons, the lone exception coming in 2013, when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opening game.
Steelers Wide Receiver Chase Claypool: ‘All is Well’
The most notable thing that happened at Steelers practice on Tuesday is that wide receiver Chase Claypool “went down hard” with an apparent lower body injury on the second-to-last play of practice.
The injury was significant enough that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and tight end Eric Ebron helped Claypool off the field and down into the locker room.
Immediately after practice, Mike Tomlin indicated that Claypool was being evaluated by team doctors. Fortunately, the news was as good as could be expected, this according to ESPN senior NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Later, Claypool seemed to confirm Schefter’s report by tweeting a three-word message:
If Claypool ends up missing game time, that would figure to be a benefit for No. 4 wide receiver James Washington, who has reportedly requested a trade due to a lack of practice reps and playing time.
Lions vs. Steelers at Heinz Field
The Steelers return to preseason action on Sat. Aug. 21 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern when the team takes on the Detroit Lions at Heinz Field. The game will be broadcast in Pittsburgh on KDKA-TV (CBS), with the national broadcast on NFL Network. On Tuesday the Steelers published information as to all the other possible ways to watch or listen to the game, regardless of where you are in the world.
Follow the Heavy on Steelers Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
• Browns Place Former Steelers Wide Receiver Ryan Switzer on Injured Reserve