When the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Kendrick Green out of Illinois in the 3rd round of the 2021 NFL Draft, there was some talk of him starting early in his rookie season. When fans saw Green only registered four starts at center his Senior season, it dampened expectations of him in the black and gold.
Nonetheless, despite those lost snaps, Green has come into camp and held down the starting role from Day 1. Just this past week head coach Mike Tomlin, who always struggles to praise rookies, admitted Green was the team’s starting center.
Throughout the first two preseason games Green’s play has been as expected. Some good, some not-so-good. In last week’s preseason game vs the Philadelphia Eagles, Green seemed to have his first “Hey rookie, welcome to the NFL” moment when he was pushed backwards into the lap of Mason Rudolph by Javon Hargrave.
It’s a learning experience, and one Green will hopefully use to help him improve his overall game. As the team prepares for the Detroit Lions this Saturday night at Heinz Field, two team captains, Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Heyward, spoke with the media and were asked about Green.
Roethlisberger likes what Green has been able to accomplish in a short amount of time this preseason/training camp.
“He’s doing really well. We’ve started working on silent counts, we’ve done all kinds of stuff.” Roethlisberger said. “We still are both working together every day to try and get as comfortable as we can, but I’m very confident and comfortable in the way that he’s progressed.”
When you think about giving insight on a position, rarely would you think a defensive lineman would be asked about an opposing offensive lineman. However, they can provide some valuable information considering they go against each other almost every day in practice.
Heyward was able to talk about Green’s progression, and what he does well for a rookie.
“I think Kendrick has got to approach it that way.” Heyward said when talking about Green showing some nastiness in camp. “He’s going up against Tyson [Alualu] everyday, and Tyson is gonna beat you up if you aren’t careful. He’s getting the best work he can. Hopefully it prepares him for the season. He’s asked a lot of questions and we’ll take it from there. He’s gotta take his lumps throughout the season, that happens, but how do you continue to bounce back and not hit that rookie wall?”
To be more specific, Heyward thinks Green has a tremendous amount of potential.
“He’s athletic. He can get out in space. He communicates well.”
Green will be the team’s starting center for the foreseeable future, and if the Steelers were able to find the next rock in the middle of their offensive line for the next decade, and then some, in the third round, it might be considered one of the best picks of the Kevin Colbert era.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the 2021 regular season.