Jon Bostic is still running behind Tyler Matakevich but if he passes him up during training camp, expect to see plenty of #51 on the field this year. Speaking to Steelers.com’s Teresa Varley, Bostic recalled what the team told him before agreeing to a two-year contract.
“I am a three-down linebacker,” he told Varley. “That is one of the reasons they brought me in here. They said this is what we need you to do. I would love to bring that to this defense.”
That “three-down” requirement has been a high bar for players to clear as the team has searched for Ryan Shazier’s replacement. It’s the reason why they wanted Alabama’s Rashaan Evans in the draft, missing out on him, the reason why they didn’t select anyone else, and the reason why they settled on Bostic, who has shown throughout his career he’s capable of playing that role. Before getting hurt late last year with the Colts, he was an every-down player and rarely came off the field.
As much as we’ve talked about what Bostic can offer in the passing game, or at least, what he needs to be able to offer, the mantra of the offseason from the coaching staff has been all about stopping the run. Something he mentioned too.
“For us, one of our main things is going to be stopping the run. We are going to play physical up front, we are going to set the tone up front.”
While the aggregate run defense numbers look strong, 10th in yards per game, the relative numbers are far worse. Pittsburgh ranked 27th in yards per carry, the worst they’ve ranked in the entire Kevin Colbert era. And it didn’t all tank when Shazier went down either.
For now, Bostic has to learn the defense and earn the trust of the coaching staff if he wants to play the Mack spot, the key communicator of the front seven and the man who will receive all the calls from the sideline. In camp, he’ll push Tyler Matakevich for the starting gig and hopefully the competition makes each player, and by extension, the Steelers defense, better.
Bostic: "Whether it’s offensive or defensive guys, everybody bonds. It’s like one big family. You don’t get that everywhere. To be honest, it sets teams apart." pic.twitter.com/Up3Ec6cLNO
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 15, 2018