Before the start of the season, many wondered how the configuration of the CB room would come about in terms of the starters in Pittsburgh’s nickel defense. Given the signing of Levi Wallace in free agency and the re-signing of Ahkello Witherspoon, it was believed that those two would man the outside corner spots with Cam Sutton playing inside the slot in the team’s nickel defense.
However, while Wallace dealt with an injury during training camp, Sutton was bumped outside, and Arthur Maulet saw extensive action in the slot as the nickel/dime defender for the Steelers. He made several notable plays in preseason action, picking up where he left off last season as Pittsburgh’s heavy nickel who can be considered a poor-man’s version of what Mike Hilton brought to the defense as a viable run support defender.
When asked about Maulet on Tuesday during his weekly press conference and his role as a slot defender, Tomlin commended Maulet for what he brings to the defense from a play perspective as well as a communication perspective.
“He’s getting more comfortable in his shoes, and I think that’s displayed by the extend in which he communicates,” Tomlin said during Tuesday’s press conference which aired live on the team’s YouTube channel. “He’s a good tackler. He is a good blitzer. He does the things that we need that position to do and that’s why we were interested in him, but I think in year two, I just feel more fluid communication from him. And, and I think that’s helpful to him and I think it’s helpful for those around him. Communication is a big component of interior positions because you got people in front of your people behind you. And so, it’s big he’s linebacker-like in his position from a communication perspective.”
Last season, Maulet played in 16 games and posted 47 total tackles (38 solo), five TFLs, a sack, and a forced fumble. While rotating in with Pittsburgh’s sub package defense. Last week against the Bengals, Maulet made three solo stops and recorded a sack/forced fumble while playing 60 defensive snaps. He is a feisty defender that makes up for a lack of fluidity in coverage with his aggressive downhill demeanor as a run defender and blitzer off the edge.
Maulet signed with Pittsburgh in the offseason prior to 2021 and re-signed with the team on a two-year deal this offseason, suggesting that the team liked what they saw out of him in his first season with the team to keep him around a while longer. He’s arguably Pittsburgh’s best slot defender against the run and has a better understanding for the defense now in his second season with the team, bringing more to the table from a communication perspective like Tomlin mentioned.
His presence was felt as Pittsburgh did well in containing Joe Mixon Sunday afternoon, and Maulet will continue to be a key role player on the defensive side of the ball as Pittsburgh looks to make up for last season’s run defense woes in 2022.