Now that the regular season has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the offseason and the regular season as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: OLB Taco Charlton
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The Steelers promoted the veteran outside linebacker from the practice squad to the 53-man roster following the trade of Melvin Ingram to the Chiefs, after making his Pittsburgh debut on Sunday as an elevation.
It’s nice when the subject for this column is easy. The obvious player to talk about today is Taco Charlton, who is in line for a much bigger role than he was two weeks ago, now that the Steelers have moved on from Melvin Ingram.
Having signed the former Pro Bowler to serve as their supplementary third pass rusher, Ingram played admirably during the first six games, but had grown disgruntled and dissatisfied with his role, to the point that it ended with the team trading him away.
He developed a suspicious groin injury that now appears to be totally fine in spite of the fact that it kept him out of Sunday’s game, the game in which Taco Charlton made his Steelers debut, logging 10 snaps after being elevated from the practice squad to fill Ingram’s shoes.
During his press conference on Tuesday, after the Ingram trade, head coach Mike Tomlin said that seeing Charlton in-stadium in their defense was a “huge component” of the trade actually going down and their being comfortable with it.
In other words, they feel like they can get by with Charlton as their number three behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith for the remainder of the season, with Derrek Tuszka, who replaced Jamir Jones earlier in the year, being the other outside linebacker.
As a former first-round pick, he obviously has some natural abilities. The Steelers aren’t trying to resurrect his career or anything. I don’t know that they’ll go out of their way to employ a three-OLB package like they did with Ingram.
But they feel that he can come into the game and give them some good snaps while their starters rest. That’s all you can ask for, and now, that’s what they’ll be asking of Charlton.