The regular season is here, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the real work is now upon us, there is plenty left to be done.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they wade through a regular season in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Question: Can Anthony Chickillo build off what he did last week in front of his home crowd?
Last week was a big game for Steelers second-year outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo, who saw his most extensive playing time yet, and also made his greatest impact on defense. He came into the game with just two tackles on offense, and he left with three more, plus his first career sack, on which he also produced a fumble.
His increase in playing time was driven by injuries to multiple other players at his position, although everybody on the 53-man roster from the group was able to play in some capacity during the game, but Chickillo played a larger role anyway.
Obviously the sack and forced fumble was the highlight of the day for Chickillo, but he played a fairly solid game all around, drawing a couple of pressures with penetration and playing the run well, getting on the stat sheet here and there.
According to Jim Wexell, it seems as though the coaching staff is going to be giving him his first opportunity to start a game, such that that means much in the Steelers’ four-game platoon at the position, but it no doubt means something to him coming in front of his home crowd as a third-generation Hurricane alumnus.
Wexell wrote an article about it behind a paywall, but he also shared a Tweet yesterday describing Chickillo as a new starter for the game. It’s unclear if this is just an opportunity to get a better look at him or if it holds the potential to legitimately move up in the pecking order.
But where he is in the pecking order is secondary to what he actually manages to do when he is on the field. Last week was easily his best defensive showing of his young career, and the Steelers would love to see him build upon that this week in a place that is very much home for him. The table is set for him to show what he can do.