Updated: May 29, 2021
(Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)
Steelers offensive tackle Zach Banner spoke with the media after today's OTAs practice and discussed a myriad of topics, including his recovery from an ACL tear in Week 1 last year against the Giants. Banner says he's on schedule to be ready for training camp and got participated in today's OTAs session.
Banner, who is projected to be the starting right tackle this year, is the vocal leader for a Steelers' offensive line that is going through a transition with having three new starters on the line this year with the departure of Maurkice Pouncey due to retirement and Matt Feiler and Alejandro Villanueva via free agency.
“You’ll never be able to fill a gap that 53 left,” Banner said of Pouncey via Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “No one will. … But at the same time, it’s not like creating a new environment, it’s taking all the great things from [him] being here."
Banner also is aware of the negative things being said about the offensive line, as many national pundits think they are the weakness of the Steelers team.
“Come on, man. A lot of people want to say a lot of bad things about us right now, and that’s OK," Banner said. "But at the same time, a couple years ago, we were known as the best offensive line in the league.”
It's new offensive line coach Adrian Klemm's job to change the viewpoint of the offensive line, as they were known to be not efficient in run blocking last year, which played a big part in the Steelers ranking dead last in rushing yards per game (84.4) and yards per carry (3.6) last season. Klemm has an aggressive coaching philosophy and has talked all offseason about how he wants his offensive line to be maulers upfront.
“It’s a culture that was recruited and put together by ‘Coach T’ this offseason, and it really shows,” Banner said. “In saying that ‘thug mentality,’ the last thing I want people to think is we’re walking around Pittsburgh beating people up or doing dumb stuff. But at the same time, what else would you want as an offensive line unit? That’s my question. You’ve got to come off the ball and kill people, and that’s the type of mentality we need to have.”