The Pittsburgh Steelers out of necessity had to rely on their depth along the defensive line last year, with Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu being unavailable. This year, they have Alualu back, and though Tuitt retired, they filled his place with Larry Ogunjobi, while retaining one of last year’s finds in Montravius Adams.
So this season, it’s the veterans who are looking for the depth to perform in order to take on snaps to give the starters rest. They do have some young players in the mix who have been added in the past three seasons, the latest being third-round rookie DeMarvin Leal, as well as Isaiahh Loudermilk and the two Davis brothers, Carlos and Khalil.
“The young guys have really stepped up the last week or two”, said Chris Wormley, now depth after starting last season, via the team’s website. “The first week’s kind of an acclimation period. Last week and this week, they’ve really taken those next steps, and I’m excited to see them put it on display on Saturday”.
Of those mentioned above, Loudermilk actually has the most in-game playing experience, seeing over 200 snaps of playing time last season, though, again, that was largely in an emergency scenario. Had the defensive line been healthy, he probably doesn’t dress for a game all year.
It’s possible that he doesn’t dress this year, either, with Cameron Heyward, Alualu, Ogunjobi, Adams, and Wormley representing their likely starting lineup plus top two reserves. Meanwhile, Leal, guaranteed a roster spot as a pedigreed rookie, is looking like somebody who could potentially contribute sooner than at first anticipated.
But not knowing who to carry on the roster and who to dress for games on the back end is a delightful problem for the Steelers to have entering the 2022 season after what they went through last year. We’re really not even talking about Henry Mondeaux at this point, for example.
Ideally, the Steelers will have too many good defensive linemen to be able to keep around, which would mean that guys like the Davis brothers are pushing hard for a roster spot. As you might expected, they are flashing in camp, which is typical of athletic defensive linemen who know how to use their hands.
But can they find their way onto the 53-man roster, either one of them? It won’t be easy, and it could potentially take something surprising like Wormley not making the team. Carrying seven defensive linemen almost seems like a given at this point, and even with those numbers, there isn’t room for everybody, let alone a pair of brothers. That won’t stop them from competing, however, and it certainly shouldn’t.