Despite the fact that he is entering his sixth professional season, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats has not been able to find much stability throughout his career. And in truth, he won’t necessarily be able to find that in 2015 in his second season with the Steelers either. But that continual uncertainty will help him prepare for his role this year.
Moats came into this league as a sixth-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills, where he gradually ascended in his role, to the point where he started 12 games for them in 2013, the year before he hit free agency. The Steelers signed him for depth on a one-year, veteran-minimum contract.
It would have remained that way had the team been able to remain healthy, but the fact that he was one of just three outside linebackers on the 53-man roster at the time meant that he had to log heavy minutes when Jarvis Jones went down.
While James Harrison steadily ate into his playing time, Moats did gain valuable playing time, and he produced career highs with four sacks and two forced fumbles, parlaying that work into a three-year contract and the driver’s seat for the left outside linebacker spot to start the season.
And there’s no reason to believe that he shouldn’t be successful there. While he was able to find success last season, he was in his first year with the team, playing a somewhat new position in a new scheme.
He got used to that with the continual shifts at defensive coordinator and in defensive philosophy while in Buffalo. He’ll have a new defensive coordinator this year as well, but that coordinator was his position coach a year ago.
The fact of the matter is that he’s in a better place this year than he was a year ago, and that is good news. “It’s a ton easier” in comparison to his first year in Pittsburgh, he said. “For me to have that continuity it’s a breath of fresh air. I am able to communicate and be more vocal of a leader this year and I definitely feel like my play is showing in OTAs”.
It may seem a bit strange to look at Moats and see in him a leader. A former sixth-round pick, in his second year with a team after signing on for a qualifying contract, having never been a full-time starter previously in his career.
But indeed, he has been taking the reins a bit when it comes to working with the younger linebackers. After all, only Harrison has more experience overall, so it makes sense.
“Any time I can grab one of the young guys”, he said, when asked about the times when he is joined by one of his teammates during his after-practice workouts. We are not paid by hourly wages. It’s salary for us so stay as long as you need to make sure you are improving yourself. I just try to get that message to those guys”.