The Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 offseason practices concluded last week and next up for the team is their annual training camp, which should get underway in the latter part of July. Ahead of Steelers training camp getting underway, we will preview the team’s 90-man roster three players at a time for you as part of a 30-post series. This Steelers 90-man roster preview that includes outlooks for each each player will be done alphabetically by last name to make it easy to follow along with.
The first three players we will preview ahead of Steelers training camp are DeMarkus Acy, Marcus Allen and Tyson Alualu.
CB DeMarkus Acy – Acy, who signed with the Steelers back in May, entered the NFL in 2020 with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent out of Missouri. Acy did spend time on the practice squads of both the Seattle Seahawks and the Washington Football Team last season after failing to make the 49ers roster. While at Missouri, Acy started in 36 of the 47 games in which he appeared, where he registered three interceptions, 23 passes defensed, and 99 tackles. He was a team captain in college and was a four-year contributor and three-year starter at one of the two cornerback spots.
Outlook: While Acy does have a little bit of experience after spending time on practice squads last season, he’ll have his work cut out this summer in training camp proving that he should be kept on the Steelers 2021 practice squad. If he stays healthy throughout training camp and the preseason, Acy will improve his chances of being kept around on the practice squad at the start of the 2021 regular season.
ILB Marcus Allen – Last season, Allen made the from safety to inside linebacker and ultimately saw the most extensive playing time of his career on defense due to injuries to fellow inside linebackers Devin Bush, Robert Spillane, and Ulysees Gilbert III. Allen was active for all but two games in 2020 season and even started two contests later in the season. In total, Allen played 206 defensive snaps for the Steelers in 2020 in addition to 195 more on special teams. He finished the regular season with 24 total tackles on defense. He had two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and another six total tackles on special teams. Most of Allen’s 2020 defensive snaps came with him being part of the Steelers dime package and playing down low in the box. He was targeted 10 times in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus, and allowed nine receptions for 64 yards. Allen was given a one-year exclusive rights tender in the amount of $850,000 this offseason with no guarantees he makes the 2021 roster.
Outlook: Allen will certainly have an uphill battle ahead of him this summer in training camp when it comes to his chances of making the 53-man roster. The steelers drafted one inside linebacker this year in Buddy Johnson and with Bush, Spillane, Gilbert, and veteran Vince Williams all under contract, Allen is far from guaranteed to make the final cut. He’ll need to stick out on special teams throughout training camp and the preseason and make himself tough to cut. Should Allen not ultimately make the 53-man roster out of training camp, perhaps he might be a candidate to start the 2021 season on the Steelers practice squad.
DT Tyson Alualu – After it first looking like he would sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent back in March, Alualu had a change of heart while recovering from COVID. He ultimately re-signed with the Steelers on a two-year deal and now should pick up where he left off in 2020. Alualu played his fourth season with the Steelers in 2020 and he played well with most of snaps coming at nose tackle. While Alualu did miss one regular season game due to injury, a rarity for him, he still played 448 total defensive snaps and another 50 on special teams during the regular season. Alualu recorded 39 total tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks, five quarterback hits, five defensed passes and a forced fumble during the regular season.
Outlook: Alualu should once again primarily be the Steelers starting nose tackle in the team’s base defense in 2021 in addition. He has played all three defensive line positions in Pittsburgh and thus can relive starters Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt when the need arises. Alualu can continue to mentor young defensive tackle Carlos Davis in 2021 as he hopefully continues to develop. Should Davis develop like the Steelers hope he might, maybe Alualu might not need to play as many snaps as he played in 2020.