Pittsburgh Steelers fans won’t have to wait too long to see their new starting linebacker on the field. Following his first practice with the team today since being acquired via trade, Joe Schobert told reporters that the plan is for him to be on the field for their next preseason game.
The Steelers have already gotten two games under their belts, most recently playing this past Thursday, but they have a longer break ahead of their next outing, which will take place at Heinz Field on Saturday against the Detroit Lions. And there are still four weeks before the start of the regular season.
“Hopefully, by Saturday, the game, I’ll be able to at least run the basic stuff pretty confidently”, Schobert told reporters when asked about his expectations about how long it will take to be ready to go. “Then as the games go on, the season progresses, it’ll just get more comfortable”.
It’s not exactly unique to acquire a veteran player and quickly turn around and ask him to play a major role, of course. Back in 2017, the Steelers signed Joe Haden on the same day that he was released by the Cleveland Browns, on August 30. He started their season opener on September 9. He did not play in the fourth preseason game, though, the following day.
“I remember when we acquired Joe Haden a number of years ago going into the fourth preseason game in Carolina”, head coach Mike Tomlin recalled about one former Browns veteran’s readiness in relation to Schobert. “Veteran players usually adapt and adjust quickly. Most of them have been in multiple systems and can relate things to things they’ve done in the past. I’m sure he’s been in enough systems where he can do that”.
A fourth-round pick by Cleveland in 2016, Schobert has been a full-time starter since 2017, during which season he made the Pro Bowl after leading the NFL with 144 tackles. During his first season with the Jacksonville Jaguars last year, he recorded 143 tackles, along with 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and three interceptions, including a pick six.
“It’s just going to take reps”, he said. “I don’t know how many reps I’ll get before it’ll feel great, before I’ll be 100 percent comfortable making all the calls, communicating with everybody on defense, but I think it’ll be a pretty easy, pretty fluid process, especially with all the veterans that are on the defense already”.
Prior to the trade, it seemed as though the Steelers were comfortable going into the regular season with Robert Spillane as their starting linebacker next to Devin Bush. It’s still somewhat unclear just how the whole process played out and how much Pittsburgh pushed for it to happen, but Schobert’s here, and there are no doubts he will be ready.