Tyson Alualu was a first-round draft pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2010. The same year that the Pittsburgh Steelers selected center Maurkice Pouncey, and the Cleveland Browns added cornerback Joe Haden. Now all three are united in Pittsburgh…though today they are in Jacksonville, where Alualu will face his former team for the third time, but for the first time in his old stadium.
The defensive lineman spent his first seven seasons in the league with the Jaguars in a role that varied from starter to backup, depending on how the team viewed him. He never missed a game due to injury prior to this season.
And he will be making his first start of the year—after having several last season due to injuries—against his original team, something that he talked about with Kevin Gorman for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He still has a home in Florida.
“It really feels like a homecoming for me. My home is Hawaii, but that’s where me and my family live”, he told the reporter. “I’m just excited that it is Jacksonville. I’m ready to step up and embrace the challenge”, he added about taking on a starting role. “You’ve always got to be ready, be prepared for when you do get opportunities and make sure there’s no drop-off”.
On the season, Alualu has just seven tackles and zero sacks, but has only played fewer than 200 snaps so far this season, typically averaging about 20 per game, but his playing time has been less as the season has gone on, presumably with Stephon Tuitt, who he will be replacing today, and Cameron Heyward hitting their stride and needing less time off the field.
Though he is in his second year in Pittsburgh, he admits that he still has strong ties to his former team and home. That resulted in some mixed emotions after the Jaguars eliminated him from the playoffs last year, their first appearance in the postseason since before he was even drafted.
“I was mad after the game, but I was still happy for the guys and especially the city. It was good for them to have that happen”, Gorman quoted him as saying. “The people of Jacksonville were good to me. I ain’t going to lie. I was excited. That’s a big part of who I am. I still have a lot of love for the city. I was happy. Anytime they’re doing well, I’m definitely rooting for them, except for when they’re playing us”.
I think he’s had enough to be happy about over Jacksonville over the past year, though. It’s time for him to help secure a victory over his former team and keep the Steelers in the driver’s seat for another postseason bye—after which they are unlikely to see the Jaguars again.