The Pittsburgh Steelers have long been connected to dominant play on the defensive side of the football. Whether you go back to the Steel Curtain of the 70s, Blitzburgh of the 90s, or the stellar defense in the late 2000s, you can rest assured that Pittsburgh had talent at all levels of the defense as one of the most feared units in all of football.
However, last season Pittsburgh struggled to live up to that dominance as they were gashed up front against the run, surrendering the most rushing years in the league and subsequently the most in team history. The defensive line was a big reason of the issues as Pittsburgh lost two projected starters by the first quarter of Week 2 for the entire season, and didn’t have the talent or depth to make up for their absence. Since then, Pittsburgh has gotten back Tyson Alualu from injury and signed Larry Ogunjobi this offseason to add to a DL room with Cam Heyward, Chris Wormley, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Montravius Adams, and DeMarvin Leal.
T.J. Watt was asked about the development of the young defensive linemen heading into the 2022 season, specifically what second-year pro Isaiahh Loudermilk has done in recent months prior to the start of the regular season that has stuck out to him.
“Yeah, he’s continuing to grow,” Watt said in the locker room to the media on video via the Steelers’ Twitter page. “Like I said, we talk about trending in the right direction. I feel like he’s done a good job of that. He’s obviously stout against the run and he’s continuing to grow his pass rush package as well.“
Loudermilk was forced into action last year due to the injuries up front in what was supposed to be a redshirt season for the fifth-round rookie out of Wisconsin. Loudermilk ended up playing 288 defensive snaps on the season and tallied 23 tackles, a sack, and three pass breakups in 15 games, with two starts. The young defensive lineman represented himself well as a run defender as the season wore one, but still needs to develop more hand usage to become a better pass rusher as he heads into Year Two.
Loudermilk experienced trial by fire last season for Pittsburgh, but now should be set to become more of a rotational player given the bodies they have up front. Should he make the roster, Loudermilk will be allowed to focus more on his technical development while becoming stronger as an athlete, and will likely see a handful of snaps from game to game if active as he attempts to become Pittsburgh’s next developmental late round defensive lineman.