Back in 2018, the Pittsburgh Steelers brought in Jordan Mailata for a pre-draft visit, an Australia native whose background was in rugby. He worked through the league’s International Pathway Program to train leading up to the draft, where he was ultimately selected in the seventh round by the Philadelphia Eagles.
And he will be starting at left tackle on Sunday—but only because their first two options are on injured reserve, with Jason Peters having been moved there most recently. Mailata made his NFL debut this year and made his first start on Sunday, the Eagles’ first win of the season.
Cameron Heyward recalls the fact that Mailata came in for a visit those years ago, but isn’t planning on giving him any breaks. In fact, he told reporters yesterday when asked about Philadelphia needing to shuffle their offensive line due to injuries that it’s a call to feast.
“They’ve had to shuffle their lines and make proper adjustments. That’s the name of the game”, he said. “But for us, we think when you’ve got to replace somebody, there’s blood in the water”, speaking to the mentality of the pass rushers.
“We try to feast on that, but they’re gonna play accordingly”, he noted. “They’re gonna get the ball out quick. They’re gonna run the ball. They’re gonna do a lot of screens. But when we get our chance’s we’ve got to hit home. That’s the only way we’re gonna have success. We’ve got to make them one-dimensional. If we do that, we can have a fun day”.
Truth be told, the Steelers have been having some fun days as pass rushers all season so far. The level at which they have been putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks has been incomparable relative to the rest of the league. Only one team has more than their 15 sacks, that being the Eagles, but they’ve played four games to Pittsburgh’s three, so have had a third more opportunities.
In addition to Peters being out and Mailata in, right tackle Lane Johnson has been dealing with an injury that the team acknowledges will linger for a while. He was in and out of the lineup during the team’s last game, and he certainly won’t be 100 percent against the Steelers.
That’s definitely blood in the water for T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, who will spend most of the time going up against these wounded gazelles as they hunt for prey. Heyward and Stephon Tuitt inside will have their fun, too, especially with decorated guard Brandon Brooks unavailable. They’ll still have to contend with Jason Kelce at center, but he is lined by undistinguished role players at either guard position.