Now that we’ve said goodbye to all of the prominent members of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster from a year ago, it’s time to introduce ourselves to the new blood. Many of them, of course, are draft picks, but the team also ended up picking up numerous players via free agency, the majority of whom we’ll likely be seeing in-season at some point.
Roster turnover is an inevitability in the NFL, but the 2021 season marked greater change than normal. Some of those adjustments will be accounted for internally, but it will also require the supplementing of a number of new components, which we’ll be reintroducing ourselves to over the course of this series.
The Steelers swapped veterans after the draft, replacing Trevor Williams on the 90-man roster with Arthur Maulet. Prior to the draft, the former was seen by fans as a possible candidate to start in the slot after the team lost Mike Hilton in free agency. Apparently they felt more comfortable getting on Maulet, who has a more stable and healthy recent resume.
At the moment, Maulet is competing with second-year safety Antoine Brooks Jr. for the right to open the season as the Steelers’ starting slot defender, though it’s not guaranteed that either will have that job. They could still decide to slide Cameron Sutton inside in the nickel and play James Pierre on the outside.
Unfortunately for the veteran, his Steelers debut could have gone better. Even though he played just 11 snaps in coverage, he had his issues, one of which resulted in being well behind on a big gain over the middle.
Interestingly, the team did not have him play on special teams, even though that is something he does, having logged several hundred snaps in that phase of the game over the course of his career. For anybody who isn’t guaranteed a starting job, playing on special teams is one of the best ways you can help yourself.
Still, the Steelers don’t have a lot of strong candidates among players who are capable of playing in the slot, and Maulet shouldn’t be represented by just one game. By and large, he has practiced well, which has often brought reporters to ask head coach Mike Tomlin about him afterwards.
Tomlin allowed Brooks to start in the slot last week, but he is currently sidelined with some injury. It’s not clear if his status could possibly be in jeopardy for their second preseason game, but that would be a big opportunity for the veteran to gain some ground in the race.