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2022 South Side Questions: Will Tyson Alualu Finish Career As Healthy Scratch?

The Steelers are at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, informally known as the South Side facility, now into the regular season. It’s where they otherwise train all year round, and the facility that Burt Lauten insists everybody refers to by its full name.

There are still unsettled questions that need answering, even deep into the regular season. They entered the process with questions in the starting lineup, in scheme, and elsewhere, but new problems always arise that need to be resolved.

Even questions about who’s starting and when may not have satisfactory answers in their finality, as midseason changes are certainly quite possible, for some positions more than others. We’re also feeling out how the new coordinator posts—or posts in new contexts—end up playing out.

There’s never any shortage of questions when it comes to football, and we’ll be discussing them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.

Question: Will Tyson Alualu finish his career as a healthy scratch?

The Steelers announced a lineup change this week, with Montravius Adams promoted to the starting nose tackle position over long-time veteran Tyson Alualu. Head coach Mike Tomlin simply said that Adams had been playing better than Alualu.

While Cameron Heyward insisted that both Adams and Alualu would be contributing on Sundays regardless of who starts, one has to wonder if that is an arrangement that lasts all season if Alualu doesn’t improve his game.

We also heard comment from Gerry Dulac, who claims that second-year Isaiahh Loudermilk is now all the way back from a rib injury he suffered a month and a half ago and that the Steelers do intend to use him going forward.

And yet Chris Wormley is logging plenty of snaps as the third defensive end, and rookie DeMarvin Leal has been getting valuable playing time in a variety of roles, including as a stand-up edge, in the team’s 3-3-5 front, something that none of the other linemen could do, at least not consistently.

Though it’s not going to happen now, it’s not outlandish to believe that we could eventually see a defensive line group later this year that dresses six linemen, none of whom are Alualu. Of course, if he manages to play his way back into his prior form, then they’re not going to take him off the field, but his performance through the first three games has obviously left him vulnerable to the possibility.

The complicating factor is figuring out who can play snaps as nose tackle. Loudermilk did put on weight this offseason, which defensive coordinator Teryl Austin described as “good weight, good strength, good muscle”, so perhaps he could be the one-for-one replacement for Alualu if it came down to that.

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