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Back at center, Kendrick Green is hoping 2023 will equate in a larger role

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 3rd Round pick is still searching for his role on the team’s offensive line.

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

If you want to get a rise out of Pittsburgh Steelers fans, you can usually just say one name and it will do the trick. That name would be none other than 2021 NFL Draft 3rd Round pick Kendrick Green.

When Green was drafted, he played only a handful of games at center during his time at Illinois. However, due to the retirement of Maurkice Pouncey and an unfortunate salary cap situation, the Steelers were forced to thrust Green into the starting lineup. He started 15 games his rookie season, Ben Roethlisberger’s final season, before being inactive for all of 2022. The difference between 2021 and 2022 was Green being moved to guard, competing with Kevin Dotson in a battle at left guard.

Now, entering 2023, Green is back at center, and is hoping the experience he’s gathered the past two seasons can help him have a larger role on the roster. Even if that is as the primary interior back up.

“It’s better this go around because my first year, I didn’t have anybody to lean on,” Green said as the Steelers wrapped up their third minicamp practice. “It was my first time doing it. I was kind of thrown out there. Now, Mason (Cole) has played a lot. For me, we can talk about how to approach certain blocks and things like that. He’s done it before. I have, too, but not as well as he has. I’m just trying to see how he does it. Mason has been a big advantage. He’s helped a lot.”

One aspect of Green’s tenure with the Steelers which should be acknowledged is the turnover the team has had at the offensive line coach position. It was Adrian Klemm who was the coach when Green was drafted, and after Klemm left the Steelers during the season it was Chris Morgan who took over. Last offseason was Pat Meyer’s first year on the job, and the current offensive line coach sees progress with Green.

“I see the improvement,” Meyer said. “Year 1, he was a rookie thrown right in there. He had to learn it and lead it. For a rookie coming in that didn’t feel comfortable, you could watch the film and say he did a lot of good things, too, for him to learn from.

“Last year, we had him in there and he was competing for a starting guard position and he ended up not winning that job. But I can see the improvement daily on Kendrick. We’ve got good people here that want to compete and want to win. He’s always asking questions, ‘How do we do this?’ I see him talking to Mason all the time. ‘How would you approach this block? Why?’ Stuff like that for a young guy like Kendrick is invaluable to have a guy like Mason helping him grow.”

Ultimately, Green realizes the nature of the offensive line, as it pertains to how the fans view you. In other words, you are noticed when you mess up, but not necessarily lauded when you do your job.

“Playing o-line, you only get noticed for the bad. There was more good, numbers wise, I had more good plays than bad plays,” Green said. “If you’re doing your job, nobody is going to notice. It’s just something where I want to build off what I do and what I did well and fix the things I didn’t. It’s all it is.

“It’s completely new. Even how we scheme stuff up, it’s different than how we did it when Ben (Roethlisberger) was here. Everything is like new. I guess you could say it’s a clean slate.”

With Mason Cole as the entrenched starter, Green is fighting for a larger role on the team which would be the role J.C. Hassenauer held the past two seasons. That being the primary backup at both center and guard along the offensive line. Whether he can handle those duties will be determined when the team reports to training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA on July 26th.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the 2023 NFL offseason.