The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently dealing with a bit of an uncertain situation when it comes to their starting left outside linebacker. Second-year player Bud Dupree has missed a great deal of not just training camp and the preseason, but even the whole offseason going back to OTAs, while dealing with a groin issue that actually threatens to keep him out of the season opener, if not beyond.
But I don’t think the team is worrying a great deal just yet about how the defense will be able to perform without him for a short period of time, especially not with the way that veteran Arthur Moats, entering his third season with the team and seventh overall, finished off a strong preseason. He wrapped up his playing time with a pair of tackles to go along with a pair of sacks—technically a sack and a half—finishing with 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble in this exhibition slate.
Although the Panthers spent a large portion of the preseason finale pounding the ball on the ground against the Steelers’ reserve defensive front seven—after all, why would they not, considering how much success they were finding?—Moats was pretty consistent in bringing quality pressure off the left edge of the defense in passing situations.
He helped to coax Joe Webb into a bad pass on third and seven to end Carolina’s first drive when he bull rushed the left tackle angled into the pocket and then slipped off his left shoulder around the arc to get behind the lineman and after the quarterback. It was the only throw on the eight-play drive.
Webb’s second pass came on the first play of the next drive, and it went for an 18-yard completion to the opposite side of the field, but it was a play on which Moats dropped into coverage. He dipped the edge on a first-down play from the 21, just outside the red zone, toward the end of that drive, and then on third and seven, won the edge again with a double move and bring Webb down.
He and Artie Burns did fail to defend the right side of the defense on a 15-yard run to open the Panthers’ next drive on a cutback run, but he did end the drive from the Steelers’ 15 with another sack, this time getting the left tackle spinning in circles, and he nearly had a pass defensed in between.
Travis Feeney checked in for Moats thereafter, but it was a pretty productive three drives for the veteran, especially when it comes to the pass rush, and he may be fairly regarded as the team’s best pass rusher from the position right now.
Since signing, Moats has been an effective bit player, and has been productive in limited pass-rush opportunities, notching four sacks in each of the past two years. His four sacks last season included two half-sacks, to boot. There is a reason the Steelers signed him to a three-year contract last offseason with a nice little pay raise from his veteran-minimum deal he got in 2014.