When the Pittsburgh Steelers signed linebacker Cole Holcomb this offseason, it wasn’t expected that he would be able to be a major participant in offseason activities, as he’s coming off a foot injury. That proved to be true at the first OTA session today, as Holcomb only worked in positional drills, according to a post on Steelers.com by Dale Lolley. While he was only a limited participant, he said he’s “champing at the bit” to be able to participate fully.
“Feeling good. I’m champing at the bit,” Holcomb said via Steelers.com. “But we’re still taking it a little slow. Be ready for September. Our coaches, our training staff, they all have the right mindset. I’m behind them 100 percent.”
The hope is that Holcomb, who only managed to play in seven games last season due to the injury, will be an upgrade over Myles Jack and Devin Bush. He’s proven to be a really effective run-stopper and was impressive in 2021 with Washington, where he racked up 142 total tackles to go along with two interceptions and two forced fumbles. Holcomb’s still young — he’ll be 27 when the season starts — but coming off an injury there’s worry he won’t be as effective.
Pittsburgh’s investment in its inside linebacker corps hasn’t worked out in recent years. After trying out Jon Bostic at the position, the Steelers traded up to select Devin Bush 10th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Bush tore his ACL during his second NFL season and never really bounced back, getting benched towards the end of the last season with the Steelers in a playoff push. Jack was pretty mediocre last season, and while Robert Spillane stepped up late in the year, he was ineffective in coverage and really just a downhill thumper.
Pittsburgh tried to rebuild the group this offseason with the additions of Holcomb and Elandon Roberts. There’s hope that the two of them, with Mark Robinson and potentially Nick Herbig as depth, will help the unit get back to being at least average. Holcomb will be one of the keys, as he’s shown the ability to be a really solid player in the league. He’s obviously going to need to be healthy, so I’m glad the Pittsburgh training staff is taking things slow and making sure his foot is fully healed before he’s a full go for team activities. Hopefully, that extra rest will allow him to look like the player he was in 2021 and become an anchor at off-ball linebacker for the Steelers.