What every AFC North team needs do before Week 1


Steelers offensive line. (Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports)

The AFC North will be determined by thin margins in 2021, so it’s important the Ravens, Browns, Steelers and Bengals get stuff done before Week 1.

Last season, the AFC North produced three playoff teams while featuring a tight battle for the top spot in the division.

The Ravens and Browns are set up to contend for the title. The Steelers are hoping to prove everyone wrong by repeating their 2020 success. The Bengals are just trying to get better.

Each of those four has key needs to address before the start of the season.

What should every AFC North team get done before Week 1?

The Steelers must get the offensive line settled

Pittsburgh brought back Ben Roethlisberger and added an exciting young running back in Najee Harris via the draft. Yet the offense will be nothing if they can’t get the offensive line sorted out.

The trenches were always due for a shake-up. Maurkice Pouncey retired while Alejandro Villanueva and Matt Feiler left in free agency. The Steelers dropped a fourth starting offensive lineman when they waived David DeCastro with a non-football injury.

The team quickly added Trai Turner to fill the vacant guard spot.

Roethlisberger will be working behind an almost completely changed offensive line. Zach Banner is returning at right guard, but he only started one game last year before suffering a season-ending injury. It might as well be an all-new starting five.

The Steelers had enough to sort out after promoting Matt Canada to offensive coordinator. His offense won’t work unless the new front five, likely with Chukwuma Okorafor at left tackle, Kevin Dotson at left guard, JC Hassenauer at center, Turner at right guard and Banner at right tackle, gels quickly and effectively.

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