Despite the fact that second-year former undrafted free agent linebacker Terence Garvin has found it close to impossible to see the field on defense, with four inside linebackers ahead of him on the depth chart, he has still been able to keep himself busy doing what got him on the roster in the first place, which is playing special teams.
In that respect, Garvin is a four-way player, serving on both the return and coverage units for punts and kickoffs. Against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, he gave us all a reminder of why he was kept on the roster as a ninth linebacker in the first place, after having to earn an offseason roster spot via a workout invitation.
It was the hit from Garvin, for example, that knocked the ball out of Cedric Peerman’s arms when the Bengals attempted to run for a first down on a fake punt early in the game. While the home team did recover the ball, they were unable to advance it, and thus Cincinnati lost the ball as a result of a turnover on downs. Garvin’s instinct and recognition was key there, though the offense only mustered a three and out as a result of the turnover.
Earlier in the game, Garvin chased down returner Adams Jones on the first punt of the game when the Bengals jammers were able to neutralize the Steelers’ gunners on a short punt. Garvin was forced to shed a block and chase Jones upfield before bringing him down just past the 40-yard line.
To open the second half, Garvin was the first man down the field to make the tackle on Ben Tate, taking the kickoff out from five yards deep in the end zone and stopping him at just the 15-yard line. The Bengals were able to drive a bit, but, in part due to their poor starting field position, they settled for a punt.
These are, of course, the plays in which Garvin had a direct impact on the return. He also does all of the little things that are not so easily noticed.
On the punt coverage team, for example, he lines up to the immediate left of the long snapper, providing key protection in the middle of the line. He does a good job of transitioning quickly from holding off rushers to blocking.
Unsurprisingly, Garvin leads the team in special teams tackles, listed as 12 total, including an assist, from Pro Football Focus, with no missed tackles. Vince Williams is the only other player on special teams to register more than six tackles.
Outside of his two special teams penalties, which have mercifully become less of an issue as the season has gone on, the Steelers have certainly benefited on special teams through his play, and that is why he continues to be on this roster above all else.