Trading up for Isaiahh Loudermilk in the fifth round of this year’s draft was arguably the most surprising and curious decision the Pittsburgh Steelers made with their selections. But Keith Butler believes it’s a move that’s paid off and that Loudermilk, playing more than probably anyone anticipated, is coming along nicely. Butler praised Loudermilk’s present and future game in a press conference with reporters Thursday.
“We like it the way he’s coming along,” Butler said in audio provided by the team. “[DL Coach Karl Dunbar’s] doing a good job with him. He’s going to be a good player for us. We need for him to be a good player for us because how thin it is at that position. So hopefully he can continue to get better.”
On the season, Loudermilk’s stats don’t look like much. Five tackles, one pass deflection, and one sack, which he was credited for being the closest man to Baker Mayfield when he ducked out of bounds Sunday (though he had a sack against Green Bay negated by penalty). But his play has ticked up over the last two weeks. So has his snap count. Against the Browns, he played 15 snaps and 25% of the defense.
As Butler said, Loudermilk has been thrust into a larger role due to the injuries the D-line has dealt with. Stephon Tuitt’s yet to play this season due to knee surgery. The team remains optimistic about his chances to return this year but even if he does, it’ll be weeks before he returns. Tyson Alualu suffered a season-ending ankle fracture while Carlos Davis has hardly played this year and recently landed on IR due to a knee injury.
It’s forced a young defensive line, guys who weren’t expected to dress this season, to step up. Guys like Henry Mondeaux and Loudermilk. The results have been mixed, but the group is making progress. That’s all you could hope for or expect. But Butler knows this group can’t fade down the stretch as they did last year. It’s an even taller ask for rookies and young guys playing the most snaps of their career.
“92 has got to come along. He’s starting to come along. [Mondeaux] has got to come along. He’s starting coming along. So we gotta be able to play, going into these last ten games. Ten games is a lot of games left. We gotta be successful in those games in order to get to playoffs. Hopefully we can build to that.”