Of the active players on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 53 man roster, Ramon Foster is the oldest of the bunch at 33 years young. Second on that list might be a name that surprises you. It’s Tyson Alualu, who turned 32 in May, and comfortably ahead of Joe Haden for the oldest defensive player on the roster. Speaking with Steelers.com’s Missi Matthews after the game, who told Alualu Cam Heyward refers to him as the “old man” but also one of the roster’s most underrated players, Alualu said he’s embracing being the roster’s elder statesmen.
“It means a lot,” Alualu said. “Trying to go and do the best I can. They say that all the time around here, the standard is the standard. When people go down in this game, it’s an opportunity for me. But you don’t want to have that drop off. It means a lot. Definitely one of the older ones in the group. So trying to be an example in any way I can when I’m on the field.”
Entering his tenth year in the league and third with the Steelers, Alualu is playing some of his best football. While officially only starting two games this year, his snap count has ticked up after Stephon Tuitt was lost for the year. His run defense has been steady, effort always impressive, and I’m still convinced he’s going to punch the football out of some unsuspecting ball carrier’s arm before the year comes to a close.
He’s one of the few players in the league capable of handling a changing of his role. Once a top ten pick in the draft, his career didn’t go exactly as planned in Jacksonville. But he lasted seven years, no small feat, and accepted a more reserved role in Pittsburgh, though injuries ahead of him have created additional opportunities to shine.
What shouldn’t go unnoticed about his game is his durability. In ten years, he’s only missed three games. Just one since he became a Steeler. Of all players from the 2010 draft class, only one – Ndamukong Suh – has played more games than Alualu’s 152. Suh has 153 so there’s still a chance Alualu catches him.
Consistency, durability, effort, and leadership. All apt ways to describe Alualu. Not to mention a guy who is playing well this year, getting more pressure on the quarterback than a year ago, and someone the team had no issue turning to when Tuitt went down. By no means is he as athletically gifted as Tuitt but you could do a lot worse in trying to find his in-season replacement.