Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Jon Bostic is probably aware it’s pretty unlikely he is going to retain his starting job from last season since the team went out and signed Mark Barron to a contract worth three times as much per season than they gave him.
His signing was always meant to be little more than a bridge to the next long-term starter, and in fact they didn’t even guarantee him a starting position upon or after signing, having him compete with Tyler Matakevich, who took the first-team reps throughout the spring and began there in training camp.
Be that as it may, he remains ready and willing to do whatever is asked of him to help the team win. But he also hopes that whatever it is the team asks him to do this year is more in-line with what he knows he is capable of doing.
“I blitzed a lot more than I ever have. I was always the cover guy. I never blitzed that much. In the defenses we ran in the past, I didn’t blitz much”, he told the team’s website earlier this month. “That was new for me. Now heading into my second year here, it’s getting them to understand me even more as a player, how I think, how I play and how I can help the defense”.
Bostic started 14 of 16 games played last season for the Steelers, registering 73 tackles with three passes defensed and two and a half sacks, the latter two setting or tying a new career-high. His best season came the year before in his one season with the Indianapolis Colts, in which he recorded 97 yards, one sack, and three passes defensed in 14 games.
It was that performance—including one against the Steelers that year—that put Bostic on the team’s radar as an intelligent and instinctive linebacker who was strong against the run. But they still more or less asked him to do whatever they felt like asking him to do, and that didn’t always put him in the best positions to succeed.
Entering 2019, at least as the roster is currently constructed, he figures to be the next man up at both inside linebacker spots behind Barron and Vince Williams, depending on how the 2019 NFL Draft unfolds.
Just because he won’t be starting doesn’t mean he isn’t still a capable player, at least in certain respects. His work against the run was pretty strong overall last season, though, in spite of what he says, he had some issues in coverage.
And while he may not be a fan of blitzing, he did set a career-high in sacks. Still, it’s never a bad thing for a team to understand its player well enough, and displaying the willingness, to tailor his usage to what he is most capable of doing.