Following Tuesday’s practice, Mike Tomlin took time to address the media in a press conference to give injury updates as well as provide insight on the performance of RB Jaylen Warren and DL Isaiahh Loudermilk.
When asked about OLB Derrek Tuszka and his thoughts as the OLB3 by a member of the media, Tomlin was quick to respond that Tuszka still has a lot to prove to earn that designation for the team in the outside linebacker rotation.
“He’s working,” Tomlin responded to the question on video via Steelers.com. “He’s working with a group of others to distinguish themselves. And so we’ll just keep snapping the ball and seeing what those guys do, but not enough yet to speak in the manner in which you reference.”
The manner in which the reporter referenced Tuszka is as the team’s OLB3 on the depth chart and primary backup to T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. Last season, Tuszka shared that primary backup role with Taco Charlton after Melvin Ingram was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. Being signed by Pittsburgh to their practice squad after the Denver Broncos released him prior to the start of the 2021 season, Tuszka was promoted to the 53-man roster on September 28. Over the course of the season, Tuszka appeared in 15 games and played 247 defensive snaps along with 194 special teams snaps according to Pro Football Reference. Tuszka posted 18 tackles, one TFL, two sacks, and one forced fumble.
Coming into 2022, Tuszka finds himself in competition with Genard Avery, Tuzar Skipper, Delontae Scott, and Ron’Dell Carter for a backup spot behind Watt and Highsmith. While Tuszka has a leg up on Scott, Carter, and Skipper in terms of regular season experience, he must show improvement off his brief flashes last season to justify winning the spot on the roster, let along get the OLB3 job, which appears to be best suited for Avery at the moment given his previous experience as well as his performance in training camp.
Depth at outside linebacker has often been a position that has been linked to the Steelers in terms of adding a more experienced, proven player prior to the start of the regular season. Given the amount of cut-downs that happen before Week 1, it’s plausible that Pittsburgh is taking this time to evaluate the guys they have in-house before searching outside of the organization at potential free agents or players who could get cut be other teams. In summary, Derrek Tuszka is likely not only fighting for the OLB3 job in Pittsburgh this season, but he’s also fighting for a roster spot with the guys in the building and the guys Pittsburgh may have an eye on bringing in.