Taco Charlton made his on-field debut with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in a win over the Cleveland Browns. He only played 10 snaps, and he wasn’t officially credited with any statistics, yet he was certainly around two key plays in the game.
One of those plays was a sack credited solely to Chris Wormley. Whether or not Charlton should have received half the credit can be very much debated, but he certainly helped to chase Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield into a space where Wormley could make the play.
His big non-play, however, came much deeper in the game, late in the second half. Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry just caught a pass for a first down and was about to set Cleveland up inside the red zone, down five points. Joe Schobert got to him first, however, and when all was said and done, the ball was out, and then in T.J. Watt’s hands.
In between, Charlton came over and put a hit on Landry. The scorekeepers officially credited Schobert with the forced fumble, but as we pointed out on Twitter shortly after the game, there is certainly a very good case to be made that it was actually Charlton who caused it, or at least helped to. He was asked about that yesterday.
— Steelers Depot 🦃 (@Steelersdepot) November 2, 2021
“I mean, I hit the ball for sure. I don’t know who caused it, but I’m just happy it happened”, he told reporters. “Whether me or Joe got it, either way, I’m just happy it happened. It was a big turnover at a big time of the game, and it changed the whole chemistry of the rest of the game. As long as one of us got it and we won the game”.
A game one stat line of half a sack and a forced fumble—or half of a forced fumble, if there were such a thing—would certainly look a lot better than a blank page, but the good news for Charlton is that the coaches actually watch the tape, so they see what he did whether it shows up in databases or not.
With Melvin Ingram now gone, traded away on Tuesday, the former first-round pick is set up as the next man up behind Watt and Alex Highsmith at outside linebacker, joining Derrek Tuszka on the depth chart. Head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that seeing him in action in their defense was a “huge component” of their comfort level in moving Ingram at the trade deadline.
It’s clear that there is an expectation from the coaching staff that he is going to be able to perform. It remains to be seen just what his role is going to be, or rather how large a role he will have, but if he is going to make plays, then he is going to be given opportunities.