Kendrick Green Admits ‘It Probably Would Have Been Best’ To Sit As Rookie, Knows He’s Fighting For Roster Spot
Kendrick Green started every game his rookie season in 2021 until he suffered a late-season injury, after which he dressed for the final couple of games as an emergency reserve. A year later, he was a weekly healthy scratch. Now in 2023, he knows where he stands. “I gotta do what I have to not just to have a role but to make the team”, he told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. But it goes deeper than that.
A third-round pick seemingly hand-selected to be groomed as Maurkice Pouncey’s successor after the perennial Pro Bowl center retired, Green didn’t wait long to be put into the starting lineup. But it’s apparent in hindsight more than ever that that wasn’t the best solution for anybody.
“It probably would have been best that when I got here if I (hadn’t) played right away, if I got to learn before I was thrown in there”, he acknowledged. After all, center wasn’t even his position. Even Dermontti Dawson got time the learn.
Adamski also points out that Green explained he could have benefited, as he has now with Mason Cole, from the presence of a veteran center to help him along, but he was pretty much on his own. There was J.C. Hassenauer, but he was still proving himself. Everybody was just fighting for real estate.
Having worked exclusively at center thus far this offseason, that seems to be the move to give him the best chance of making the team, even if it’s not exactly what he might want to be doing. There is no real viable number two center option, but the Steelers have Nate Herbig and Kevin Dotson to be backup guards. Green already lost to Dotson for the starting left guard job a year ago.
And it’s noted that Green quickly began taking center snaps again as soon as that summer competition ended, after focusing throughout the offseason on guard. That may have played a role in him serving as an inactive all season, because he didn’t get much time in the interim to work on playing center.
Another thing he notes, according to Adamski, is that offensive line coach Pat Meyer’s approach is more friendly to the center position than was Adrian Klemm, who coached the offensive line during most of Green’s rookie season.
As much as virtually everybody seems to want to just throw him out of town, the Steelers are continuing to work with him and seeing if he can develop into this role as their backup center. They could have re-signed Hassenauer this offseason but seemingly chose not to.
Like it or not, at least for now, he seems to be getting his chance. Not the one he wants, but the one that’s available to him. Did he envision himself coming out of college as a backup center? No. I’m sure he wants to be starting at guard.
“But you do what the (heck) they tell you”, he said. “You deal with it, man. Roll with the punches. Hopefully I get a chance one day. It is what it is”.