(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert addressed the state of the offensive line when he spoke with the media today before practice, and while many are skeptical of the offensive line that will feature five new starters at each position, Colbert has a positive outlook on the unit.
"We knew it was going to be a transitional period," Colbert said via Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider. "Once Maurkice decided to retire, that was one spot. We knew we were going to have trouble signing Al based on where we were in our cap situation. Of course, David giving us the (release) when we did, gave us another situation. But we felt even back in the spring we felt good about the group we had."
Chuks Okorafor moving from right tackle to left tackle is one of the biggest question marks on the Steelers' offensive line, as Okorafor struggled at right tackle last season and now he'll have the responsibility of protecting Ben Roethlisberger's blindside. Colbert thinks Okorafor being at left tackle will be more beneficial to him, however.
"We went into it saying when we scouted Chuks (Okorafor) we thought he would be a better left tackle than right coming out of college," Colbert said. "Last year he lost the competition to Zach Banner at right tackle. Had they been competing for left tackle, my guess is Chuks would've beat him out - and that's not to take anything away from Zach. So I think Chuks can be a starting left tackle."
When it comes to the interior positions on the offensive line, Colbert says there's a lot of unknowns, but that doesn't make it necessarily a bad thing. He's also comfortable with Zach Banner at right tackle, a starting role that he earned last year, but his season was cut short due to an ACL injury in Week 1.
"Kevin Dotson is one of those young guys who has to prove he can play 17 games efficiently as a starter. The center position is wide open. We have two veterans in J.C. Hassenauer and B.J. Finney and of course Kendrick Green jumping into the mix. That'll be an interesting battle," Colbert said. "The right guard, Turner's a former Pro Bowl right guard and is only 28 years old. Can he play at that level this year for us? Time will tell. And we're excited to see Zach back at that right tackle spot because he earned it last year and unfortunately he had the injury. So we knew it was going to be a little bit of a mix and match but we were comfortable with the group we had - albeit having to add Trai after we moved on from David."