As the Steelers begin their second week of training camp, their OLB depth chart is a bit leaner than it was to start. The team signed WR Javon McKinley today and in a corresponding move waived OLB Tyree Johnson. Johnson signed with Pittsburgh as a UDFA out of Texas A&M, looking to make the team as a potential depth piece behind entrenched starters Alex Highsmith and T.J. Watt.
With Johnson out of the picture, the OLB room remains suspect with the likes of Derrek Tuszka, Genard Avery, T.D. Moultry, Delontae Scott, and Tuzar Skipper behind the starters. While the room is deep with names, none of the players above have exactly established themselves as proven producers off the edge.
After practice concluded Monday, Mike Tomlin addressed the media to answer any questions. When asked about the performance of OLBs Delontae Scott and Genard Avery thus far in training camp, Tomlin kept it real with the media, commending their efforts thus far.
“Both guys have done a nice job,” Tomlin said on Scott and Avery. “We’ll just look at the tape and continue to monitor their growth and development. I expect Avery to show that he’s an NFL football player because his resume displays that. That’s just one component of his evaluation.”
Based on reports from camp on Monday, Scott made a name for himself on multiple occasions. The 6’5″, 246 lb. pass rusher reportedly stood out in backs-on-backers during the team’s first padded practice as well as made an impact in the team session according to our very own Alex Kozora.
Tomlin points to Avery being an “NFL football player”, having experience in the league to make him a reputable option at outside linebacker. When looking back on Avery’s resume, he does bring a fair amount of experience to the table, having played in 53 games with 17 starts at both inside and outside linebacker. To date, Avery has amassed 101 total tackles, 11 TFLs, 24 QB hits, 7.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and five pass deflections in four seasons.
Unless one of Scott, Avery, or another current member of the OLB depth chart behind Watt and Highsmith steps up as a respectable third option, Pittsburgh will be hard-pressed for production at the position this upcoming season. It has been speculated that the team could add a more proven player closer to the start of the regular season, but as we sit here today, no move has been made. Thus, the flashes that Scott and Avery have in camp will have to continue for Pittsburgh to feel good about the group they have going into preseason play.