The Pittsburgh Steelers experienced something extraordinary in 2022 along their offensive line. The starting five played almost the entire season together. The only players who missed time, and no one missed an entire game, were center Mason Cole with a foot injury and Chuks Okorafor with a shoulder injury. Both of those players’ time missed would be deemed in snaps, not games, missed.
Heading into 2023, the Steelers organization wasn’t about to bet on that lucky fortune happening a second time. That would be why they acquired players like Isaac Seumalo, Le’Raven Clark and Nate Herbig in free agency. However, with those new faces in the mix, it takes time to develop cohesion as a group.
No one knows this as well as James Daniels, who was the new guy in town a year go.
“Right now we are practicing and there are no pads,” said guard James Daniels. “For offensive and defensive line play, having pads is a big component of it. It’s nice that we are getting work on the field, but the informal stuff, going out to dinner, lifting together, it’s helping us a lot.
“If one person is wrong, we are all wrong. It’s been great so far.”
Having new faces in the group is one thing, but the fact this is Pat Meyer’s second year on the job is also something worth noting.
“Everyone who is new to the room came in and really listened to what (offensive line coach) Pat (Meyers) has been teaching them,” said Daniels. “They also have been bringing things they have done in the past. It’s been good so far.”
“Man, right when I got here, they took me in with open arms,” said Herbig. “I already knew Isaac, played a bunch of years with him at the Eagles. It’s just been a good chemistry since I got here.
“The other day we all went to brunch. We are always doing stuff, building chemistry in and out of the building which I appreciate.”
Off field chemistry is one thing, building that same chemistry on the field is the ultimate challenge. It stems from knowing what everyone, not just linemen, are doing on every play called.
“I feel like playing the offensive line we are able to work on things like route timing with the quarterback and receiver, knowing where the receiver is going to be. You have to know what guys are going to do next to you, their way of communicating. I feel like the better you know them, the smoother it goes.”
For Seumalo, he knows what it takes to get to the Super Bowl, and it is the development and cohesion necessary to execute at a high level.
“I think offensive line is such a unique career choice,” said Seumalo. “It takes all five of us working together to be dominant and consistency is a huge part of that. I am thankful for Pat and Coach Isaac (Williams). They’ve been welcoming. It’s not them telling us what to do, it’s a group effort, a collaboration. It’s been good.”
For Seumalo and the new-look Steelers offensive line, it is just about taking a one snap at a time approach to getting better.
“Consistency, confidence, talent,” said Seumalo. “But where do you go from there…because everybody is talented. Being able to lock in one play at a time and then move on to the next. Trusting your teammates next to you. There are a lot of things.
“That is why the offensive line has been here since Phase One. Nobody has missed. It takes work. It’s a grind, ups and downs. That consistency, critique of oneself and trying to improve every day. It’s not going to be huge jumps but looking for that one percent every day.”
The pieces are in place, but can they do the necessary work to ensure success? That will become evident in July when the players report to training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason.