2020 Offseason Questions: Will Antoine Brooks See Defensive Playing Time?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.

The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.

How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Will Antoine Brooks see any defensive snaps as a rookie?

This is one of those ‘you never know’ questions. Given the circumstances, it seems rather unlikely that rookie sixth-round pick Antoine Brooks would get much of a chance to have a role defensively this year. not only is he a late-round pick at a position with two solidified starters, he didn’t have an in-person offseason thanks to the pandemic.

And frankly, nothing is really guaranteed from this point forward for the rest of the season either. Training camp is supposed to start about a month from now. Will it? And how much will they even be able to do? How many preseason games will there be?

Of course there are plenty of obstacles in Antoine Brooks’ way if he is hoping to get playing time. But there is a path, in theory. When you have a middle linebacker the Steelers have shown the propensity to take off the field in passing downs, that opens up a dime role, and Pittsburgh likes a safety as the dime. Neither of their other backup safeties are players they like to use.

Plus they’ve talked about Brooks as that sort of hybrid player after they drafted him, a player they said they had been scouting for years. That’s just the sort of role they had in mind for him, and the role that he would play if he did get a chance to get on the field this year.

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