The Pittsburgh Steelers carried five outside linebackers on their 53-man roster last year. Only one of them was on the field tonight, and that would be Anthony Chickillo. T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, both nursing injuries, are the other two of the five who are still with the team.
And the Steelers found it difficult to generate much pressure with the edge rushers that they had to work with tonight against the Philadelphia Eagles, but they did see some success in the second half, particularly from rookie undrafted free agent Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, whom I mocked to the team in the seventh round.
The Toledo product was responsible for authoring the team’s one true sack of the night—Chickillo was also credited with one on an end-of-half scramble situation—the rookie able to get to quarterback Joe Callahan early in the second half.
Adeniyi’s pressure also caused a fumble, which the Steelers recovered, I believe Keion Adams the one getting on the ball. It was one of three takeaways for the defense on the night, the other two coming in the form of interceptions.
There were a number of other rushes throughout the game in which the rookie found success in generating pressure as well, though it should be worth noting that he spent most of his reps working against a seventh-round pick who had previously played rugby.
Still, it was a positive flash for a young player looking to push for a roster spot. In order to earn such an honor, however, he will also have to perform on special teams, and I believe that he did have a penalty on special teams tonight.
If the Steelers do keep five outside linebackers, though, Adeniyi figures to have the best shot at the moment, behind starters Watt and Dupree and backups Chickillo and Adams. Adams is a second-year player who spent his rookie season on injured reserve, so this was also his first preseason game.
Pittsburgh is putting its eggs in the baskets of these young edge rushers such as Adams and Adeniyi to provide depth, and they got extra work in trying to earn roles tonight with Watt and Dupree both sitting out due to health reasons.
There is still a long way to go for Adeniyi, however. He is not going to earn a job based on one play in the preseason. But it is a good start that has gotten him some attention, which could lead to more opportunities to be put in more situations to make plays.