As we mentioned in a recent Terrible Take, Henry Mondeaux is on the outside looking along the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 53 man roster. But he has unique value that may give him the upper hand. Speaking with Steelers.com’s Teresa Varley, Mondeaux acknowledged how his special teams value gives him an edge.
In 11 games, Mondeaux played 181 snaps on special teams last season, the most of any Steelers’ defensive lineman and one of the higher numbers in the league. He is one of the few, maybe the only, true defensive lineman to run down kicks. He told Varley he loves every chance he gets.
“I love special teams, mainly because it was a big reason I got the opportunity to play last year,” Mondeaux told Varley. “It’s a part of the game that may be overlooked by some people who watch. I think that it’s a very important piece of the game that is necessary to be successful as a team, especially in the NFL. Special teams are also really fun. You get to go one-on-one, full speed, you run a lot and fly around the field. They’re a great opportunity for guys that may be in situations coming off practice squads or are young, undrafted, or drafted in later rounds.”
Many defensive lineman can play on the field goal team or even the kick return team as one of the blockers. But Mondeaux has the ability to play on nearly every unit with the exception of the punt coverage team, and even then, he could probably play there as a wing or tackle.
Mondeaux says he embraces how unique special teams are and how that gives him the upper hand for his roster chances.
“It takes a unique mindset to play any position professionally in football, but special teams is very different than offense and defense,” he said. “You do have to be ready for that open field, one-on-one, I have to beat this one guy every time we kick the ball off or receive it.”
On the coverage team, there’s value in having pass rushers on that unit. Those are the guys who work on defeating blocks every single day. More commonly, these are lighter defensive ends and linebackers, but Mondeaux is a plus athlete who can function in space. In high school, he was a fullback/tight end, totaling four touchdowns (two rushing, two receiving) his senior year. Pittsburgh even used him as a fullback on one snap last year.
“I think a lot of it was trust in me and being in the program they have seen me run. They felt that I could run down there and keep up with smaller guys for the most part. I think that it was a lot of them trusting that my abilities would allow for me to do it at a high level.”
He’ll compete with the likes of Isaiah Buggs and fifth round pick Isaiahh Loudermilk. The Steelers figure to keep six defensive lineman on the 53. Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and Tyson Alualu are locks. Chris Wormley has a high chance to make the team. That leaves two spots for Buggs, Loudermilk, Mondeaux, and sophomore Carlos Davis. It is one of the biggest sources of depth on this team and should make for an intense camp battle.