The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to have a new player at the starting mack linebacker position this year. Whether that’s ‘new to the team’ or ‘new to a starting role’ remains to be seen, but if it ends up being free agent signing Jon Bostic, it will be the former.
A former second-round draft pick back in 2013, Bostic has had a circuitous career that has taken him to many different cities in a relatively short amount of time, a path set off by bad lucky with injuries and a series of coaching changes that have affected his value to his teams.
He’s not in Pittsburgh after signing a two-year deal, coming off a one-season excursion with the Indianapolis Colts in which he played in and started 14 games, setting a career-high in tackles and significantly raising his stock. Still, he feels there is much left for him to prove.
“I do [feel I have a lot to prove] because there’s a lot of stuff that I haven’t been able to prove yet”, he told the team’s website recently in a sit-down interview. “There’s been a lot of different reasons why, but I think last year got my foot back in and I was able to have a good season, and I plan on building on that this year”.
Bostic played the majority of his first three seasons with the Chicago Bears before he was traded to the New England Patriots in 2015, after John Fox replaced Marc Trestman as head coach of the former. He signed with the Detroit Lions in 2016, but a training camp injury suffered during an inter-squad practice against the Steelers shelved him on injured reserve. He was liked by the Colts, but they too got a new head coach who converted the defense to a new system that they didn’t think he fit as well for what they intended.
So now he finds himself in Pittsburgh, looking to fill the shoes of Ryan Shazier, who has been a Pro Bowler for the past two seasons. Shazier suffered a career-threatening spinal injury during an early December game last year and will not play in 2018, and perhaps ever again.
Not that he is absent from the team. In fact, he is right down on the field with the linebackers as they go through drills, walking with the support of a cane. And Bostic has said that Shazier’s presence has been invaluable to him, “especially for me coming in, you know, it’s a new defense for me”.
“Being able to ask him different questions and whatnot, really just having his face around. He’s been a good player since he walked in this building so he’s going to be able to give his insight as well”, he said of his teammate. “You can never have enough eyes out there on the field, and for him to be able to say, ‘hey, I may have played this different’ or ‘I may have done this or that’, you’ve got to listen to that type of thing. I think it’s big just for our defense”.