The Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker room looks a bit different than it did a year ago today. No James Harrison, no Arthur Moats, two veterans of the locker room who set the tone, either by action (Harrison) or word (Moats) for the rest of the guys in that unit.
Such responsibility now falls on Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo, and T.J. Watt. While that might not be conventional, a group where the oldest guy is still only 25, to Joey Porter, it’s certainly no excuse.
“I love the youth,” Porter told reporters. “I love where we’re at. It’s not like they’re new to the system. Bud is going on his fourth year, Chickillo is going on his fourth year, T.J. is going on his second year, and then you have the young puppies behind them.”
What matters in Porter’s mind is snap count, something the group has logged plenty of.
“As far as playing experience, those guys have played enough to know what we want, know how we need to execute the defense. Now it’s all about production.”
Production is the part that’s lacking from the group though Porter pointed out how the game has changed and the Steelers’ philosophy shifting, now getting everyone involved instead of just the outside linebackers. Dupree is under the microscope, arguably his last chance to prove he was worthy of a first round selection and Porter has high expectations for Watt after a successful rookie year.
“They know what we expect from them from a defensive standpoint. They know what I’m expecting of them as a coach. Now it’s about getting out there and executing and having success on the field.”
Chickillo will be the reserve backup, presumably at both spots, until/unless those “young puppies” like Keion Adams and whoever else makes the team – Farrington Huguenin or Ola Adeniyi are two candidates – step up and show something. Chickillo will also be a UFA after the year so having his best year is critical for him, too.