The Pittsburgh Steelers had expected Zach Banner to be ready for training camp, and especially the regular season, but his recovery has slowed. The Steelers had to place Banner on injured reserve last week after it was apparent he wouldn’t be able to start against Buffalo on Sunday. He will now be out for a minimum of three games as he continues to rehab from tearing his ACL nearly one year ago.
“Different guys come back at different rates. We’ve stressed that to him, and Devin Bush,” Coach Mike Tomlin said at his Tuesday press conference.
“We’ll play it by ear,” in regards to what Banner’s timeline for return will be. “Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.”
None of these things are very good for the Steelers. Their depth is pencil thin on the offensive line. Dan Moore Jr’s progress this offseason has been very significant. He was expected to need a full year before he’d be ready to see any ‘varsity’ playing time. That hasn’t been the case right out of the gate. Tomlin said today that his floor was much higher than they expected. That has helped ease the pressure of Banner not being ready to go. Moore will of course start on Ben Roethisberger’s blind side on Sunday against a stout Buffalo defense.
With Banner out free agent signee Joe Haeg figures to see playing time as the Steelers swing tackle. The downgrade from Moore as the swing tackle to Haeg is significant. They could also promote tight end Kevin Radar to the active roster on Sunday and use him to block. He’s the Steelers best blocking tight end, but limited receiving skills keep him behind third tight end Zach Gentry.