Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Derrek Tuszka talked to Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about his comfort level with the team as he enters his second season as a Steeler.
“Oh man, I know our defense so much better this year than last year. And right towards the end I was really understanding the defense. So, just my knowledge of the game has gone up so much, not only on defense, but, just knowing the offense and stuff like that, as well as special teams and learning the schemes and stuff. My overall game knowledge has gone up. So, I see myself as a student of the game, always learning something,” Tuszka said via a tweet from Adamski.
Tuszka was brought in late in the process last year, as Pittsburgh signed him to the practice squad on September 1. He spent most of the offseason with the Denver Broncos, the team that originally drafted him in the seventh round of the 2020 Draft. Tuszka played a limited role with Pittsburgh, playing 247 defensive snaps in 15 games as a backup outside linebacker. He racked up 18 total tackles and two sacks last year, and he’s expected to compete for a similar reserve role the rest of the preseason.
He is facing competition from new additions in Hamilcar Rashed Jr., James Vaughters and Ron’Dell Carter. I think Genard Avery is probably OLB3 right now due to his increased experience level, which means it’s Tuszka’s job that Rashed, Vaughters and Carter are likely gunning for. Given Tuszka has more familiarity with the team and the system and he seems to be learning, I would give him the upper hand on the competition for now. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone like Rashed impressed in the next two preseason games and made the decision a little bit tougher, though.
Tuszka did a nice job in his role last year, and he was also able to contribute on special teams, which is a key to sticking in the NFL if you’re a bottom of the roster player. He showed a little bit of pass rush ability with his two sacks as well, and he also had five quarterback hurries. If he makes the team this year, Tuskza probably won’t see a significant boost in his playing time, but if he’s able to fill his role the way he did last year, I think the team would be happy.