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Mike Tomlin says experience will shape the Steelers starting lineup to begin training camp

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With limited in-person offseason activities, the Steelers will rely on experience with the team early in the preseason.

NFL: DEC 22 Steelers at Jets Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In an online meeting with local Pittsburgh media on Tuesday, Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin offered some insights into how the depth chart will begin when the team meets for training camp in the coming weeks. With very few holes to fill in the starting lineup on both sides of the ball, Coach Tomlin said it will be players who have been with the team starting off in these positions when they take their first snaps in training camp.

When it comes to offense, the only starter who is not returning for the 2020 season is left guard Ramon Foster who retired in March. With many questions as to how the Steelers will work their offensive line, Coach Tomlin stated it will be starting right tackle from 2019 Matt Feiler who will take the first snaps at left guard in training camp. With Feiler moving over, it will be either Zach Banner or Chukwuma Okorafor, both who have several years playing for the Steelers, vying for the right tackle position.

It’s very important to remember these are positions merely to start off at training camp. Although Feiler started 15 of 16 games in 2019 at right tackle with his other start coming at left guard, the majority of his time in the preseason was spent at guard, particularly during preseason games. Feiler’s versatility will offer a lot for the Steelers as they determine who will be the best player to fill out the fifth starting role on the offensive line. Whether it be Banner or Okorafor at tackle, or Stefen Wisniewski or rookie Kevin Dotson at guard, the Steelers need one of those for players to step up and earn a starting role.

As for the defense, the only starter who was lost after 2019 was nose tackle Javon Hargrave who signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. When it comes to filling this position, Tomlin said Steelers defensive tackle Tyson Alualu will begin camp getting the snaps at nose tackle.

What is interesting in this case is Daniel McCullers has more years of experience with the Steelers and is a “true nose tackle.” Instead, Coach Tomlin seems to be taking the approach used with Hargrave and having a player who is versatile enough to play both at nose tackle and defensive tackle.

Other players who could also get into the mix at nose tackle are second-year player Isaiah Buggs as well as newly acquired Chris Wormley who arrived via trade from the Baltimore Ravens.

Of course, Coach Tomlin has given very little emphasis on depth chart during training camp. Being consistent over his 13 years as the Steelers head coach, it will be both practice and preseason game performances which will shape the Steelers depth chart going into the 2020 season.