The offensive numbers weren’t very encouraging, but the uneven performance doesn’t mean Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is discouraged about the play of his young offensive line.
The Steelers gained 252 yards and scored only one touchdown in their season-opening victory in Buffalo.
The running game was ineffective for much of the game and the line, with two rookies making their first NFL starts, made their fair share of mistakes.
But you didn’t hear coach Tomlin complain about the shortcomings of the group during his weekly news conference Tuesday afternoon.
To the contrary, Tomlin was enthused by the presence of some other qualities they displayed that he believes will help them improve throughout the season.
“I loved the spirit in which they worked,” Tomlin said. “I loved the demeanor of their work, I loved the physicality of their work. The quality of our work has to get better. We have to develop cohesion. But the will, the intangible things required to progress, I saw. That was encouraging.”
Rookie center Kendrick Green and rookie left tackle Dan Moore got their first taste of the NFL in the Steelers’ 23-16 comeback victory at Highmark Stadium. Tomlin also started Kevin Dotson, an inexperienced second-year player; veteran Trai Turner, who is new to the team; and veteran Chuks Okroafor, who flipped from left tackle to right tackle two weeks before the Bills game.
The Steelers pulled Green for three plays on the first series of the second half after he was involved in some extracurricular activities with a Bills player after a play ended.
But he was inserted back into the game on the same drive and finished the game.
“We like where he is,” Tomlin said. “I thought he brought the intangible things. He played hard. He finished. Some of the technical things smoothed out over the game. There are going to be challenges, but what an environment he was in. Just to get in that environment with him and Dan Moore and not have pre-snap penalties, that was a win. I was prepared to have some 1st-and-15s. By no means have they arrived, but it was enough to get us out of that stadium with a win.”
Next up is an impressive Raiders front that harassed Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson throughout the game in their 33-27 victory on Monday night.
The Raiders front, led by defensive linemen Maxx Crosby and Carl Nassib, had three sacks, seven quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles, the final one leading to the winning score in overtime.
Inside linebacker Robert Spillane, who missed the Bills game after injuring his shin during pregame warmups, is expected to be available for the Raiders, said Tomlin, who also noted there were no other major injuries.