Matt Feiler appears set to start at left guard for Steelers, Chuks Okorafor at right tackle
During Chuks Okorafor’s first NFL start last season, his duties included blocking a player who finished tied for fourth in the league in sacks.
About a year later, it appears his second NFL start will come against the player led the league in sacks.
Okorafor confirmed he took first-team reps as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ right tackle Friday, which means he likely will start Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams and Pitt and Penn Hills product Aaron Donald.
Okorafor practiced all week at right tackle. Matt Feiler, the normal right tackle, practiced at left guard.
“Switching from right side and left side, the football is little different, and I just flip everything that I know from the right side to the left side in my head,” Feiler said Friday.
Okorafor’s lone NFL start as an offensive lineman was at right tackle last season in Denver against Von Miller and the Broncos. He has not played a snap on the offensive line in a meaningful game in the 50 weeks since. He has not played a snap of any type this season;. His lone regular-season action since has been 11 snaps as a tight end during December 2018.
On Sunday, it appears Okorafor will be tasked with limiting Donald, who led the NFL last season with 20 ½ sacks.
“Being able to face a guy like Donald, it should be fun,” Okorafor said.
Should the Steelers start Okorafor at right tackle and move Feiler to guard, it would not seem to reflect well on B.J. Finney, the top interior backup who is making $3.095 million this season as perhaps the NFL’s highest-paid backup offensive lineman.
Finney started last week’s game in place of Ramon Foster, who remains in concussion protocol and will not play against the Rams.
Updated story on the possible changes coming to the Steelers offensive line Sunday against Rams.https://t.co/0gNiRJR4Cm
— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) November 7, 2019
Okorafor lost out in what was touted as a four-way competition for the starting right tackle job during training camp, though Feiler never appeared truly challenged to keep the gig he held on an interim basis for 10 games last season after Marcus Gilbert’s season-ending injury.
Okorafor, in fact, was slotted as the No. 3 right tackle when the season began; Zach Banner has been in uniform as the top reserve at tackle all season. While Okorafor has not dressed for six of eight games and not played in any of them, Banner has filled the extra tight end role for 91 snaps.
Still, the Steelers, in an apparent adjustment to dealing with Donald, are turning their previous offensive line depth chart on its head.
“They didn’t really give me an explanation,” Feiler said when asked why he was moved to guard.
“I don’t know,” he said moments later. “I don’t know what (coaches) had in mind.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .