Pardon the strikingly obvious pun, but new Pittsburgh Steelers safety Nat Berhe has a golden opportunity to carve out a role for himself as he begins the next leg of his NFL career after having spent his first four seasons in the league with the New York Giants.
Specifically, he has a ready-made spot available for him to seize in taking over many of the duties previously carried out by Robert Golden, a six-year veteran safety who until recently spent his entire career in Pittsburgh. The former undrafted free agent just a couple of days ago signed a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs after the Steelers released him.
As Alex Kozora has talked about, both today and in the recent past, Golden’s departure left a pretty significant though overlooked vacancy within the Steelers’ special teams, and Berhe should be able to step in and make up for most of what they have lost while also aspiring to be a contributor on defense if afforded the opportunity.
The only native of Eritrea ever to be drafted into the league didn’t come into the NFL with a lot of experience on special teams, but the same could be said for the majority of those who actually get drafted. They tend to be the best of the best on their teams and are spared such responsibilities, even if they end up as the lower rungs on the NFL ladder.
But he like so many other players before him quickly learned the importance of contributing on special teams and has managed to make himself valuable in doing so, which is what has ultimately brought him to Pittsburgh, and where he should fit well.
It helps that he is a natural football player who loves the game and is unafraid of expressing his views. Even coming out of his rookie season as a fifth-round pick with hardly any defensive contributions, Berhe did not hesitate to share his thoughts on the Giants’ defense at the time.
“I saw a lot of things that I liked, not playing [on defense] you saw a lot of things you don’t like”, he said back in 2015. “You saw what works and what doesn’t work”.
A player in his position would normally take a more reserved approach, but I frankly like that he is not that sort of player. “Attack. Last year I felt like we were more reacting, just waiting and reacting instead of really getting after it”, he went on.
You may have noticed that Berhe’ nickname is ‘The Missile’. He was given that by his coaches during the rookie season, and I don’t think I have to explain why. That is the way he plays the game. That is who he is. and Mike Tomlin loves those sorts of players.
It might be interesting to note that the Giants are among all teams in the league one of those that has most frequently used three-safety defensive packages, dating back for years. Berhe has done some of that, as have others such as Deon Grant and Stevie Brown.