Training Camp

Austin Sees Growth Out Of Loudermilk Heading Into Year Two, Expects The Same From Leal

DC Teryl Austin joined Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on Movin’ The Chains on SiriusXM NFL Radio Friday to talk about his experiences in training camp thus far as the newly-appointed defensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers for 2022. The group talked about the importance of tackling in a training camp setting as well as new additions Levi Wallace and Myles Jack and what they can provide the Pittsburgh’s defense.

When Austin was asked about DL Isaiahh Loudermilk and DeMarvin Leal and their development thus far in their young NFL careers, Austin first addressed Loudermilk, praising him for the strides he made during his rookie season.

“I tell you what, there’s a lot of growth in Milk,” Austin said on Movin’ The Chains. “He came here last year, kind of for us as a tweener. So, we had to put on some weight, put on some strength and he played for us last year. And you could see flashes of a really good player. And this year you see that second-year growth. You know, the guy second year in the system, been in the weight room all year, put on some weight, gotten stronger and he’s having, uh, he’s having a good camp for us. I like the way he’s performing.”

Isaiahh Loudermilk was a surprise selection for many (including myself) when Pittsburgh elected to trade back into the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft to select him. He was widely seen as an undrafted guy coming out of Wisconsin, having the length and height that Pittsburgh desires in its defensive linemen, but lacked the production or technique as a pass rusher.

However, Loudermilk proved to be a capable run stopper during his time with the Badgers and managed to play a role there as a rookie when Pittsburgh dealt with injuries along the defensive line. Loudermilk ended up playing 288 defensive snaps in 2021 and recorded 23 tackles, a sack, and three pass deflections. Heading into 2022, Loudermilk has added size and strength to his long 6’7″ frame, having weighed in the 270 lb. range at his Pro Day, but got up to 293 lb. last season and likely even more this offseason to make his mark as a rotational defensive lineman along the front line.

When Austin addressed Leal, he reiterated the same points he had about the former Aggie after the team drafted him.

“DeMarvin’s good,” Austin said. “You know how it is as a young college guy. You see he’s got talent. He’s loose hipped. He can move around. He’s got some pass rush ability, but really, it’s just a matter right now of him learning, growing, getting stronger.”

Austin detailed Leal as being in a similar boat that Loudermilk was as a rookie. Learning more as a player. Growing in terms of adding mass to his frame. Getting stronger with that added mass. Leal did come in a little light for a traditional Steelers DE, weighing in at 283 lbs. at the NFL Combine. However, he’s supposedly added nearly 20 lbs. this offseason and has retained his explosiveness according to Alex Kozora’s reports at training camp. He has flashed on several instances the last couple weeks, showcasing that talent he had coming out of Texas A&M as a natural pass rusher and gap penetrator.

Still, while Leal is far more accomplished as a pass rusher coming out than Loudermilk was, he does need to work on becoming a more consistent run defender, struggling to hold to point of attack at times when he was in college. This can be a strength and size thing, but also has a lot to do with technique as Austin said both guys need to continue to work on to make an impact on the defensive line in Pittsburgh.

“These guys, these linemen will just knock you all over the place,” Austin said. “And that’s really a big thing. And it was for Loudermilk last year. And it is for its for Leal right now. “

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