Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi was able to intercept backup quarterback Joshua Dobbs during the team’s Thursday OTA practice as a result of him doing something he wasn’t asked to do much at all during his college career at Toledo. That something was dropping into coverage.
“No, not at all,” Adeniyi said after Thursday’s practice when asked if was asked to drop into coverage much at Toledo. “I probably dropped to the flats maybe once or twice my junior year since I declared early. But you know, definitely this offseason it’s what I also was trying to work on that aspect of my game because I never really did that in college. And last year, I didn’t really have the opportunity to do that. So, you know, I tried to work on that this offseason as well.”
While Adeniyi probably was pretty excited to intercept a pass during Thursday’s OTA practice, if forced to choose between that and a sack, he made it clear he’d choose the latter of the two.
“I would rather have a sack because you get hyped up with the d-line,” Adeniyi said. “You know, it all works together, but you know, you get paid as an edge-rusher to get sacks, not to get picks. But I mean, if they come, they come.”
After an impressive rookie training camp and preseason, Adeniyi, who was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Toledo, was forced to start the 2018 regular season on the team’s Reserve/injured list due to a hamstring injury. Because of that, he missed a lot important practice time and didn’t find himself on the 53-man roster until early December. Once activated to the Steelers 53-man roster, Adeniyi barely played on defense.
This offseason, Adeniyi, like the rest of the Steelers outside linebackers, looked to further develop his pass rushing arsenal.
“T.J. [Watt] definitely has a lot of pass rushing skills. Just sitting back watching those guys developing, I’m trying to develop like them,” Adeniyi said. “Also, working on what I’m good at, what I’m best at and just trying to add little things here and there.”
When asked what it is that he thinks he’s best at entering his second season in the NFL, Adeniyi wasted no time giving an answer.
“I feel like I’m definitely good off the edge, you know, speed rushing,” Adeniyi said. “But I also want to add like some counters, just in case the tackle over sets and be able to come back. And just little things like that, swatting the hands, spin moves, just things like that.”
When later asked how many pass rushing moves he thinks he needs in his arsenal moving forward into his second season, Adeniyi quickly said as many as he can handle mastering.
“You can never have too many pass rush moves,” Adeniyi said. “That’s how I see it. And, you know, hopefully you can take all that into the game and just use them. Basically, if you watch film and you watch the tackle, whatever he gives you is to kind of pass rush move that you use.”
As things stand right now, Adeniyi is likely to open this year’s training camp as the No. 4 outside linebacker behind Anthony Chickillo, who was re-signed during the offseason. With Chickillo also being a better and more experienced special teams player than Adeniyi, the Toledo product really needs a solid showing as a pass rusher during training camp and the preseason to secure a spot on this year’s 53-man roster.
“I’m trying to come in here and hopefully do the same thing I did last year, earn a spot,” Adeniyi said Thursday.
While the Steelers did spend one of their later round draft picks this year on an edge-rusher in the form of undersized Northern Illinois product Sutton Smith, he’s been used as a backup fullback and outside linebacker since OTAs got under way. Regardless, Adeniyi said Thursday he didn’t pay too much attention to what the Steelers did and didn’t draft this year.
“I didn’t really look too much into that,” Adeniyi said. “At the end of the day, I’m worried about what I’m doing and my development. And the competition brings out the best in everybody.”
Will get to see if Adeniyi can pick up where he left off last preseason 10 weeks from Friday as that’s when the Steelers 2019 preseason will get underway with a home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Assuming he’s healthy come that time, Adeniyi will likely play quite a few snaps in that first preseason contest. In the meantime, Adenyi is not afraid you use the rest of the offseason program to work on new things.
“That’s what OTAs are for,” Adeniyi said. “You know, working on something new and then hopefully whatever you learn you can take it into training camp and then work from it from there and in preseason and so on and so forth.”