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Tyson Alualu: D-Line’s Job Is Keep Mayfield In The Pocket ‘And Make Him Make Those Throws’

Baker Mayfield is by no means a ‘running quarterback—he has far fewer rushing yards in his entire career than Lamar Jackson has had just this past season—but he does have some athleticism and mobility, which can show as much in the passing game as in his scrambles, with his ability to move the pocket.

On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns quarterback also made the Pittsburgh Steelers defense, which will see him again next week, respect his ability to take off with the ball. He rushed a season-high six times in the game for 44 yards, which was also the most for him on the season—in all, he rushed for 165 yards.

One of those was a kneeldown at the end of the game. The play before that was his only designed run of the afternoon, a 3rd-and-2 conversion for three yards around right end with Kareem Hunt leading the way for the first down and sealing the game.

Midway through the third quarter, Mayfield  did a great job of picking his spot, seeing an open side of the field. He took off and scrambled for a 28-yard gain, which was good enough to make it the second-longest rushing play of his career, behind only a 35-yard run in his rookie season.

We always expect that he’s a mobile quarterback. it’s always about not letting him make those big plays with his feet”, said nose tackle Tyson Alualu. “We’ve got to keep him contained. As a D-line, we’ve got to keep him in the pocket and make him make those throws and try to affect him that way. You always expect some of those where he’s trying to escape and extend plays, whether it’s a run or it’s a run-pass. We’ve just got to be there and not let that happen”.

Alualu, of course, will be one of the principle defenders tasked with keeping him in the pocket, and that includes maintaining rush lane integrity when he is in the pocket, avoiding the creation of gaps through which he can step up or scramble.

As a passer, Mayfield had a somewhat unremarkable day, completing 17 of 27 pass attempts for 196 yards. He did throw one touchdown pass and protected the ball. Somewhat surprisingly, it was one of only seven games this season in which he was held to under 200 yards passing. He threw for a career-low 3563 yards this year, despite playing all 16 games.

But he also had a career-low in interceptions, just eight on the year for a rate of only 1.6 percent. And he still threw 26 touchdown passes despite having his fewest pass attempts per game in his career. The Steelers will still have their hands full with Mayfield, whether it’s with his arm or his legs, or a combination of both.

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