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Zach Banner says Mike Tomlin has asked him to step up his game in all facets, on and off the field

Updated: May 27, 2021

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Steelers offensive tackle Zach Banner suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Week 1 against the Giants last year and has been rehabbing with inside linebacker Devin Bush all offseason, who also suffered a season-ending ACL tear in 2020. Banner and Bush both participated during today's OTAs practice and Banner told the media that they're both on schedule to be ready for training camp in late July. However, Banner said they have him on a leash and don't want him to go all-in too soon.

"Coach (Mike) Tomlin has asked me to step up my game in all facets of my career, on and off the field," Banner said after today's OTAs session via Bob Labriola of "I'm a like a dog on a leash right now. They keep pulling back and pulling back, and one thing you're not going to have to tell me is to give effort and be there. (Taking part in OTAs) is not only for those other guys (on the offensive line) and to be around the team, it's to get the visual reps for myself because I'm not perfect and we all need to get better every day. At the same time it's a good thing for myself to get through this (rehabilitation) mentally. Them pulling at the leash bugs me, because I feel good, feeling better every day."

Banner also said that he has to have the mindset to pull back, as it wouldn't be surprising if the Steelers work him slowly in training camp until they feel comfortable. Banner is projected to be the starting right tackle and the Steelers can't afford to not have him at full strength in Week 1 when they travel to Buffalo to play the Bills.

"If we get to camp and they pull (me out for) a day, pull (me out for) a rep, it's out of protection, and I have to get that in my head at this early stage," Banner said. "I'm trying to lead by example, but I'm also trying to motivate myself by my actions every day."


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