According to free agent newcomer Arthur Moats, one of the reasons that he chose to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this offseason was because he believed he had the opportunity to compete for a starting job.
As it stands now, the Steelers are surely hoping that they won’t need him to do so, because that would mean at a minimum that either somebody is injured or one of their two young, high-pedigreed draftees over the last two seasons is underperforming.
But just in case such an event arises, Moats should be ready.
It probably wouldn’t be advisable to bet that Moats will unseat Jarvis Jones or Ryan Shazier in the starting lineup, or even that he would necessarily be the first one called up to fill in as a substitute, but knowing that he is there in the background is a comfort.
Though he is new to the team, he is not new to playing in the NFL, nor playing as a starter. Nor is he new to moving around to different positions.
He is even well versed in learning new systems, having gone through three different defensive coordinators during his four seasons spent with the Buffalo Bills.
During OTAs and minicamp, Moats got plenty of experience working with the first-team defense because of the fact that starting left side outside linebacker Jason Worilds was sitting practices out with an undisclosed tweak of some sort.
Because of the immense amount of depth that the Steelers currently seem to have at inside linebacker, that is where Moats will likely remain this season.
There is the possibility that, because of his versatility, however, he could put himself in a position where he will be a game day active and be asked to fill in at one of the inside linebacker spots.
Vince Williams remember, is somewhat limited in terms of his role. He was strictly the buck linebacker last season, and also came off the field frequently in obvious passing situations.
He was not on the active roster during the first game of the season because he was not a special teams contributor.
As far as I know, he hasn’t necessarily made leaps and bounds in terms of his special teams contributions over the summer. Now that he’s not being counted upon to be a starter, it’s possible that he finds himself as a game day inactive.
Moats, meanwhile, has evidently been performing well on special teams, and seems virtually assured of getting a helmet on Sundays.