While Pittsburgh Steelers rookie nose tackle Daniel McCullers only played 11 snaps on defense Sunday against the New York Jets, I thought you might like to know that the big man out of Tennessee took a big step in that game from a depth chart perspective.
For the first time all season, defensive lineman Cam Thomas did not register a single snap at the nose tackle position when the Steelers were in their base defense against the Jets. That means that when starter Steve McLendon was not on the field in the base defense, McCullers was.
Thomas certainly hasn’t played well at all this season wherever he’s lined up on the Steelers defensive line, so it’s not surprising that the coaching staff is trying to work McCullers in more when he dresses.
Sunday marked just the third game that McCullers has dressed for this season and he’s played all of 25 snaps in those three games. However, Sunday against the Jets, McCullers was able to dress because of there being so many injured players being ruled out for the game.
So what will happen with McCullers moving forward?
For the upcoming game against the Tennessee Titans, I think McCullers has a good shot at dressing again because of injuries. We should get a pretty good idea about how long that injury list will be when head coach Mike Tomlin addresses the media Tuesday.
After the game against the Titans, and assuming the injury list doesn’t grow coming out of that game, the Steelers will be faced with a decision after their bye week as to whether or not they want to dress five or six defensive linemen. If they go with five, either Thomas or McCullers will need to be inactive.
McCullers lack of position flexibility could result in him being back on the inactive list for several games after the bye, but really there’s no reason to speculate out more than just one week at a time as we all know how injuries can change things.
More than anything else, I thought you would like to know that the coaching staff had enough confidence in McCullers this past Sunday to let him back up McLendon and that’s a sign that he’s moving in the right direction. We’ll see where it goes with him from here on out.