It was generally assumed that the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive line would be better in 2022 than it was in 2021. While that may still be the case, the unit is not off to a promising start, which prompted new general manager Omar Khan to make a few changes after watching the Steelers' line struggle during their second preseason game, a 16-15 win over the Jaguars.
Less than 48 hours after that game, the Steelers signed offensive tackle Adrian Ealy and waived fellow OT Jordan Tucker. Easly was initially signed by the Ravens, where he spent the first half of the 2021 season on the practice squad before he was released after serving a six-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Along with a short stay in Green Bay, Ealy had two separate stints with the Rams during Los Angeles' championship season. The Rams released the 23-year-old lineman last week.
Ealy, who checks in at 6-foot-6 and 341 pounds, played collegiately at Oklahoma. He redshirted as a freshman and played five games the following season before finishing his career as a two-time second-team All-Big 12 selection. Primarily lined up at right tackle, Ealy allowed just three sacks on 421 pass plays during his final year with the Sooners.
The acquisition of Ealy is surely a response to the offensive line's struggles so far during the preseason. While they only allowed two sacks, Pittsburgh's offensive struggled to hold its own against Jacksonville's defensive front. Starter Mitchell Trubisky was sacked once and was forced to run for his life on two other passes. A holding call on James Daniels wiped out a 19-yard completion from Kenny Pickett to Chase Claypool on Pickett's first drive after replacing Trubisky. Mason Rudolph, who played the entire second half, was called for intentional grounding in the end zone (resulting in a safety) after the Jaguars' pass rush victimized the Steelers' line once again.
It was a particularly rough night for Daniels, left tackle Dan Moore Jr. and left guard Kendrick Green. Green described his performance on Saturday night as "not good" upon speaking to the media.
"Coach (Tomlin) kind of put us up on the board, me specifically, in front of the team during (the) team meeting," Green said, via Josh Rowntree of 93.7 The Fan. "That never feels good."
Kendrick Green: “I got beat a few times. (Arden Key) beat me a few times (laughs). He was kind of having a day with me.”— Josh Rowntree (@JRown32) August 22, 2022
Here’s what Green was talking about ⬇️ #Steelers @937theFan pic.twitter.com/wO5gBnVzJW
Cole, who along with Daniels were the two big free agents the Steelers added to their O-line this offseason, feels that the issues that have plagued the unit so far are fixable. The Steelers' line has one more chance to shore things up against a live opponent this preseason before opening the regular season against the defending AFC champion Bengals on Sept. 11.
"Our effort is there," Cole said on Monday, via ESPN's Brooke Pryor. "Our abilities are there. We know we can use right technique.We've just gotta trust ourselves in using the technique and really play to win the rep, not play to not lose."