The Pittsburgh Steelers are dealing with a number of struggles early in the 2021 season. One issue in which the team knew they could experience growing pains is the coming together of the new offensive line. Although the line has shown some improvements in various aspects of their game, they are still a work in progress. While some have called on the Steelers to sign outside help to bolster the group, it would still take time to get a new player up to speed to help right away.
In some good news for the Steelers on Wednesday, offensive tackle Zach Banner returned to practice. Banner is still officially on the Reserve/Injured List, but by practicing on Wednesday the clock has started as now the Steelers have 21 days to work him back to the active roster. If not, Banner will have to remain on the Reserve/Injured List for the remaining of the 2021 season.
OT Zach Banner returned to practice today but remains on the Reserve/Injured List.— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 29, 2021
We have 21 days to activate Banner to the 53-man roster. If he's not activated during that period, Banner cannot return to the active roster for the rest of the 2021 season.
While the return of Zach Banner could jolt a spark in this young offensive line, it is not that Banner comes in with overwhelming experience. Starting only two career games, one of which was at tackle, Banner was injured in Week 1 of the 2020 season after winning the starting right tackle job.
Regardless of his playing time, Zach Banner has been called the vocal leader of this young group even while he has been on the Reserve/Injured List. Hosting weekly meals at his house for the offensive linemen, Banner has even been seen in abundance on the sidelines during Steelers games encouraging his teammates.
Simply because Banner has returned to practice does not mean he will be ready to go for Week 4. Additionally, it also does not mean that Banner won’t be available should the Steelers choose to promote him to the 53-man roster prior to Sunday’s game. With Chukwuma Okorafor currently in the concussion protocol, Banner is now another option, along with Joe Haeg, should Okorafor not be able to play.
As for the other two players who are eligible to return from IR, there was no report of a return for either running back Anthony McFarland or defensive end Stephon Tuitt at this time.
Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for breaking news, player updates, injury reports, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare to take on the Green Bay Packers this Sunday at Lambeau Field.