Steelers evaluating Chuks Okorafor and other right tackles, giving Matt Feiler time at guard
Matt Feiler spent all of the Pittsburgh Steelers summer organized team activities and minicamp, plus the first two weeks of training camp, well entrenched as the first-team right tackle.
But since the start of the first preseason game, he’s been almost exclusively playing and repping at guard.
What to make of that? Is Feiler no longer the presumed winner of the starting right tackle competition? Or is he simply so far ahead that the Steelers are more interested in getting good looks at the likes of younger tackles Chuks Okorafor and Zach Banner to see what they have in them?
Coach Mike Tomlin’s answer to a question along those lines provided little clarity.
“We like some of these young tackles,” Tomlin said during a camp-breaking news conference Thursday at Saint Vincent. “They have done well in the groups they are working in, so we want to get a chance to evaluate them against stiffer competition. But at the same time, we want to give (Feiler) reps and keep him ready to go. He is guard capable, so he is able to serve both masters, if you will, by doing so.”
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) June 3, 2019
Okorafor — last year’s third-round pick — opened this camp as the No. 2 right tackle and Banner the No. 3 after each spent the entirety of the 2018 season on the Steelers’ 53-man roster. Jerald Hawkins initially was the second-team left tackle.
But Banner has outplayed Hawkins in camp, and has been seeing more time at both tackle spots and running with first-teamers as a result. Okorafor started the Aug. 9 preseason opener against Tampa Bay at right tackle, and Banner started at left tackle.
With two interior starters — center Maukice Pouncey and right guard David DeCastro — injured over the past week, Tomlin and his staff chose to bump Feiler inside and keep Okorafor at right tackle.
Tomlin declined to say who would start where Saturday night at Heinz Field against the Kansas City Chiefs.
“We are not ready to make those decisions,” Tomlin said Thursday.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .