Now that training camp is over with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Pittsburgh and gearing up for what they hope will be a much more productive season, it’s time to take stock of where the team stands. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of training camp and the preseason and the regular season as it plays out. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning for each one. 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: DL Larry Ogunjobi
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The veteran defensive lineman saw his first extended action as a member of the Steelers on Sunday night, not only playing well, but more importantly, looking as though he is no worse for wear following offseason surgery to repair a foot injury.
The jury is still out when it comes to determining how this defense, and this defensive line, is going to play. That is meant both generally and also specifically against the run. The latter was a major issue last season. It can hardly be worse, right?
Well, not if they actually stay healthy. Ogunjobi is a solid run defender, and though they allowed a few plays on the ground against the Detroit Lions that they really ought not to have, he did show that he can play the run the way the Steelers’ scheme traditionally calls for from his position.
Given that the team will spend the majority of the time with only two defensive linemen on the field, Cameron Heyward being the other, it is naturally imperative that Ogunjobi can hold his own—especially with the significant question marks at the second level of the defense. Or question mark. Myles Jack has been perhaps better than advertised, but Devin Bush has so much to prove this year.
Naturally, he will be compared and contrasted to Stephon Tuitt, the man whom he is essentially replacing, but he also has to be compared and contrasted against Chris Wormley, who started in Tuitt’s place last season.
The Steelers signed Ogunjobi to just a one-year deal worth $8 million, so time will tell if this is a rental or if he can be maintained long-term. Needless to say, the manner in which this season plays out, and the future projection of young linemen—especially rookie third-round pick DeMarvin Leal, who has flashed throughout the preseason—will determine that.