The Pittsburgh Steelers’ decision to move offensive coordinator Matt Canada from the dugout to the sideline got the most attention, but wasn’t the only change the Steelers made before Week 9.
Against the Tennessee Titans, the Steelers also made a change at right tackle, starting rookie Broderick Jones in place of Chuks Okorafor.
The change seemed to work well. The Steelers offensive line opened up gaps for the running game, which recorded a season-high 166 yards in Week 9.
After the game, Okorafor explained why he didn’t start against the Titans.
“I’m healthy. It was just something I said.” According to TribLive’s Chris Adamski, Okorafor told reporters. “I kind of…the way the game went last week, I said things I shouldn’t have said.
“Since I’m in sixth grade, I just can’t behave the way I’ve been acting.”
Steelers’ Chuks Okorafor says he was benched because of “stuff that happened last week.”
Typically, it’s not a good idea to switch a backup left tackle to a right tackle in a short week. But apparently Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin felt it was necessary.
Okorafor told the media afterwards Pittsburgh’s 20-16 win against the Titans that Tomlin informed him on October 31 that he would not start in Week 9.
“I spoke to Coach T, we already had our conversation, and he said it had nothing to do with it [the quality of] my game on the field,” Okorafor said, according to Adamski. “It was things that happened towards the end of the game last week. I’m not sure what will happen. We’ll have to see. Hopefully I can come back and play another game.”
Okorafor dressed in Week 9. But the bench change resulted in Okorafor playing just one snap in the fourth quarter as an extra offensive lineman.
In his place, Jones made his second NFL start and his first start at right tackle. The new offensive line combination worked well The Steelers scored average 5.5 yards per carry and did not allow a sack.
Who will start at right tackle for Steelers in Week 10?
Pittsburgh’s plan calls for Jones to be the team’s starting left guard for a long time. That became clear as the Steelers moved up to 14th overall the 2023 NFL Draft to land Jones.
Adamski speculated that the Steelers moved Jones to right tackle in Week 9 because he was best positioned to play short-term on the opposite side.
“It’s really not a big change for me.” Jones said of the move to right tackle. “Just because I feel like I’m a real athlete and I can just play on both sides, I think that’s a plus for me and the team.”
Given the amount of success the running game has had with Jones at right tackle, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Steelers kept him there in Week 10 against the Green Bay Packers.
The Steelers surpassed their season high in rushing by 52 yards against the Titans.
Okorafor shared that Tomlin made no promises to him when he told him he wouldn’t start in Week 9.
“I hope I’m back out there with the boys.” he said. “But who knows what will happen?”
Before November 2nd Okorafor had begun in 55 of the last 57 games for the Steelers at right tackle.
Dave Holcomb is a sports reporter who covers the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions for Heavy.com. Originally from Pittsburgh, Holcomb has covered college and professional sports for media outlets such as Fansided, Rotowire and Yardbarker. More about Dave Holcomb
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