Why Chuks Okorafor was benched in Week 9 is a mystery
The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a big win over the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football in Week 9, and throughout the game there were some aspects of the team which were shrouded in mystery.
One of those aspects was the change up along the offensive line. More specifically, the insertion of rookie 1st Round pick Broderick Jones at right tackle in lieu of Chuks Okorafor.
The news of this swept through Twitter/X before the game, and many were wondering why the team would make a switch? Okorafor hasn’t been great, but no one along the line has been good. The man opposite him on the line, Dan Moore Jr., hasn’t been good either, yet he remained at his left tackle position.
So, what happened? Why was Okorafor benched?
After the game the media asked the veteran tackle that very question, and his answer was intriguing. According to Okorafor, he was benched due to something he said in the Week 8 vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars. Or, as he put it, “acting out”.
This per Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Steelers RT Chuks Okorafor said he was benched because of “acting out” at the end of last week’s game in a way he shouldn’t have as a sixth year vet. Added he isn’t sure if he’ll be back in the starting lineup next Sunday but he hopes so.
— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) November 3, 2023
Reading a quote like that can lead something to the imagination, thankfully Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review was able to obtain Okorafor answering the question in the locker room after the prime time win over Tennessee.
Chuks Onorafor says he’s healthy and the reason for todays demotion was something he said on the field during the last game pic.twitter.com/9QdnWJOfju
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) November 3, 2023
Okorafor paints the picture of a mistake he made resulting in him being benched. Meanwhile, the Steelers head coach was asked about the change after the game, and he sang a slightly different tune.
“I just thought we needed a spark.” Tomlin said. “I thought Broderick [Jones] had worked hard and was deserving of the opportunity, so we gave it to him.”
At this point, the reason for Okorafor’s benching is irrelevant. The next obvious question is who will be starting at tackle in Week 10 when the Green Bay Packers come to Pittsburgh. At this point, all fans know is Jones has two starts under his belt, one at left tackle and one at right tackle, and he’s played well in both games. Like fellow rookie Joey Porter Jr., there comes a time when the coaching staff can’t keep the young player off the field.
We’ll see if that happens next Sunday.
Be sure to stay tuned to SCN for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they press on through the 2023 regular season.