Coach Mike Tomlin confirmed that Zach Banner is the starter at right tackle.— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) September 9, 2020
In his weekly Tuesday press conference, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin addressed the Steelers roster and their opponent for Week 1 in the New York Giants. But during the Zoom call with reporters Tomlin refused to publicly name a starter at right tackle. The job has gone down to the wire between Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner, and while Tomlin isn’t willing to say who won, reports are circulating Banner has come out of camp the victor.
This per Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, and also Adam Crowley of ESPN Pittsburgh:
Confirmed Zach Banner has won the starting right tackle position over Chuks Okorafor. @_adamcrowley first.— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) September 8, 2020
Entering his fourth year of the NFL and third with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Banner has been a player on the edge of the roster every season in the NFL prior to 2020. Drafted in the fourth round by the Indianapolis Colts, Banner did not make the teams 53-man roster as they hoped to put him on the practice squad as he dealt with weight issues. Claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns, Banner appeared in eight games his rookie season put only played 27 offensive snaps along with 18 on special teams. Released in the offseason, Banner was claimed by the Carolina Panthers temporary only to be released prior to the start of 2018 training camp.
Coming into Steelers’ training camp late in 2018, Banner made the Steelers roster but was only active a couple games and did not play a snap. Not in the discussion for any type of starting position in 2019, Banner once again made the 53-man roster and appeared in 14 games for the Steelers as he took over the “jumbo” tight end position.
As for Chukwuma Okorafor, he looks to slide into the swing tackle position which can also be called upon to be the jumbo tight end much like Banner played in 2019. The Steelers third round pick out of Western Michigan in 2018, Okorafor started three games his rookie season and played every snap in his only appearance in 2019 against the Los Angeles Rams.
Obviously this is nothing more than a report which could turn out to be false, but as of now, if the report is true, it looks like Banner will be the starter heading into Week 1 of the regular season. Exactly how far beyond Week 1 the decision has been made will not be confirmed until the Steelers specifically address the issue. And since they haven’t officially made the call for this week, it will still be a “wait and see” situation.
Make sure you are checking back with BTSC throughout the week as the Steelers prepare to take on the New York Giants this coming Monday.
For more from the Mike Tomlin Press Conference, check out the podcast recap below: