Veteran OL Turner looks to fill in on revamped Steelers line

Pittsburgh Steelers

PITTSBURGH (AP)Newly signed Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Trai Turner just wants to fit in on a revamped line.

The Steelers signed the eight-year veteran to a one-year contract after minicamp last month. The team had a significant hole along the offensive line following the surprise release of longtime right guard David DeCastro.

”DeCastro was a great player,” Turner said. ”I’m not necessarily saying that I’m replacing him. I’m just the new right guard.”

DeCastro, a former first-round pick, was a six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro in nine seasons with the Steelers. DeCastro didn’t practice during the team’s minicamp last month and the Steelers decided to release the veteran guard after evaluating an ankle injury.

DeCastro’s release gave the team a little more money to spend, allowing the Steelers to sign Turner.

”When a guy like Trai Turner is available to us, and we can afford him under our salary cap, we decided to make that move,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said. ”It takes nothing away from what David did in his nine seasons with us, but we have to be ready for 2021.”

Turner, entering his eighth NFL season, is a five-time Pro Bowler who was cut by the Los Angeles Chargers. The 28-year-old Turner spent just one season in Los Angeles, playing in a career-low nine games.

The Steelers hope Turner can return to the form he showcased during a six-year stint with the Carolina Panthers, when he became a Pro Bowl fixture after the Panthers selected him in the third round of the 2014 draft. Turner made the Pro Bowl every year from 2015-19 before he was traded to Los Angeles in 2020 for Russell Okung.

Turner missed seven of the Chargers’ first eight games in 2020, but he started each of the final eight while protecting QB Justin Herbert, the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Turner, who has made 89 starts in 93 NFL games, hasn’t played more than 13 games in a season since 2016.

”I know what I can do,” Turner said. ”I know who I am and I know what I bring to the table. I feel like that’s all that really matters.”

Turner provides a veteran presence on a new-look offensive line that will protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in his 18th NFL season. DeCastro was released and Maurkice Pouncey retired, while Alejandro Villanueva and Matt Feiler both left in free agency. Pouncey, DeCastro and Villanueva combined for 17 Pro Bowls.

Kendrick Green, the team’s third-round pick, is in the mix at center along with veterans J.C. Hassenauer and B.J. Finney. Chukwuma Okorafor shifts to left tackle, Kevin Dotson returns for a second season at left guard, and Zach Banner, who tore an ACL during Week One last season, is expected to be the team’s right tackle.

”Not only do I have to get used to new guys, but they have to get used to me,” Turner said. ”I think it’s more of a positive than a negative that more people are (in the mix) because you don’t know who’s available at all times. You have to make sure you have continuity with everybody.”

Turner has also witnessed intensity from the young group, as there were scuffles with defensive linemen on consecutive snaps during an early training camp practice.

”You definitely want to have that edge,” Turner said. ”Nothing is wrong with having that edge because if you don’t have it, I feel it’s far worse than having it.”

Turner is also stressing accountability. Early in training camp, new offensive coordinator Matt Canada didn’t recognize an in-practice mistake. But Turner approached Canada, admitted his mistake and the two talked it out.

”I’m just taking responsibility,” Turner said. ”We’re all out here working and I don’t want to slow anybody down . I don’t want to slow myself down. I’m just getting coached up and getting it right.”

Turner and the members of the new-look offensive line want to get it right for Roethlisberger and the Steelers this season, too.

”I’m not trying to emulate, or be somebody else,” Turner said. ”I’m not taking the place of, or replacing anyone. I’m coming in and setting the tone for who I am and for what I do.”

More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Sports Video

More Sports Videos

video

More Video

High School Football Previews

Wheeling Park Patriots: 2021 High School Football Preview

Wheeling Central Maroon Knights

John Marshall Preview

Valley Lumberjacks: 2021 Football Preview

Cameron Dragons: 2021 High School Football Preview

Paden City Wildcats: 2021 High SChool Football Preview

Hundred Hornets: 2021 High School Football Preview

Tyler Consolidated Knights: 2021 High School Football Preview

Weir High Red Riders: 2021 High School Football Preview

St. Clairsville Red Devils : 2021 High School Football Preview

More High School Football Previews

Barnesville High School

Beallsville High School

Beaver Local High School

Bellaire High School

Bridgeport High School

Brooke High School

Buckeye Local High School

Buckeye Trail High School

Caldwell High School

Cambridge High School

Cameron High School

Clay-Battelle High School

Conotton Valley High School

East Liverpool High School

Edison High School

Fort Frye High School

Harrison Central High School

Hundred High School

Indian Creek High School

John Marshall High School

Linsly High School

Magnolia High School

Martins Ferry High School

Meadowbrook High School

Monroe Central High School

Morgantown High School

Oak Glen High School

Paden City High School

Parkersburg High School

Parkersburg Catholic High School

Parkersburg South High School

River High School

St. Clairsville High School

Shadyside High School

Shenandoah High School

Steubenville High School

Steubenville Catholic Central High School

Toronto High School

Tyler Consolidated High School

Union Local High School

University High School

Valley High School

Weir High School

Weirton Madonna High School

Wellsville High School

Wheeling Central High School

Wheeling Park High School

Don't Miss

Trending Stories

More Top News

WTRF 7News Twitter

12SportsZone Twitter