When the Pittsburgh Steelers first announced the signing of Taco Charlton to the practice squad, it was a little unclear what role he’d play. Would he serve as an interior sub-rusher, a base defensive end (the team announced him as a DE) or an outside linebacker? Keith Butler provided an answer Thursday, saying Charlton will serve as an EDGE rusher with the Steelers.
That’s according to this tweet from ESPN’s Brooke Pryor.
Keith Butler says new practice squad addition Taco Charlton will be an outside linebacker for the Steelers
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) September 23, 2021
“He’s played in a three-point stance a lot,” Butler told reporters via video taken by the Trib’s Chris Adamski. “He’s played in a two point stance a lot. He’s still learning right now.”
Charlton, listed at 6’6″, 270, was viewed as more of a 4-3 end coming out of college. His size is reportedly one reason why the Dallas Cowboys drafted him over the smaller TJ Watt. After flaming out in Dallas, he’s bounced around with different teams and systems, playing for the Miami Dolphins in 2019 and spending the past two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. There, he played on his feet a bit more, making him an acceptable scheme fit in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers’ system has evolved in recent years with its EDGE players dropping into coverage less and less and playing with their hand down more and more. They’re beginning to look like more true defensive ends than stand-up, outside linebackers.
With Watt and Alex Highsmith battling groin injuries, there’s a chance Charlton gets promoted to play Sunday against the Bengals. But Butler said he didn’t know if it was going to come to that.
“Are we going to use him? I don’t know if we’re going to have to use him on Sunday. We’ll see.”
Cam Heyward’s initial impressions are positive aside from having another Michigan man in the locker room.
“We’ve got to stop bringing in Michigan guys. I need some Buckeyes,” Heyward joked Thursday. “But I think for Taco, it was a good first day. You can definitely tell he’s a heck of a pass rusher. It’s just about getting the playbook down. So we’ll see what happens.”
For those scoring at home, and it sounds like Heyward is, there are three Ohio State alumni on the roster: QB Dwayne Haskins, OG Malcolm Pridgeon, and Heyward. But with the addition of Charlton, there are now four from Michigan. LB Devin Bush, DL Chris Wormley, and TE Zach Gentry are the others.