The Pittsburgh Steelers have hit Latrobe for Training Camp as they begin their quest for a seventh Lombardi Trophy. The summer has come and gone (thankfully) with minimal excitement on the Steelers front. A truism of the NFL is that no good news can happen between the end of the Draft and the start of Training Camp. Over that time, most NFL news revolves around players getting suspended or injured. As we prepare for the formal beginning of the Steelers 2019 campaign, we’ll be taking a position-by-position look at the roster. Today we continue with the outside linebackers where the biggest change in the locker room will be the addition of Sutton Smith.
Other 2019 Training Camp Previews:
By The Numbers (ILB’s Only)
Tackles for loss: 24
QB Hits: 37
Interceptions: 1 (Bud Dupree)
T.J. Watt (3rd season), Bud Dupree (5th season), Anthony Chickillo (5th season), Olasunkanmi Adeniyi (2nd season),
In 2018, Watt led the team and outside linebackers in sacks with 13. Watt also had 68 tackles, 12 TFL, 21 QB hits and 6 FF. Dupree heads into his fifth year and is on his fifth-year option. Dupree will need to improve on his 5.5 sack number, but reeled in a interception for a score, 1 FF, 42 tackles, 8 TFL, 13 QB hits. Chickillo started zero games for the Steelers in 2018, but played in all 16. Chickillo had 1.5 sacks, 24 tackles, 4 TFL, 3 QB hits. Ola Adeniyi looks to stay healthy this year, in 2018 he played in one game, with one tackle.
Sutton Smith (Rookie), J.T Jones (2nd season), Tuzar Skipper (Rookie)
Kevin Colbert didn’t bolster this position too much this offseason, but added JT Jones from the AAF along with drafting Sutton Smith in round six of the 2018 NFL Draft. Tuzar Skipper was added as an undrafted free agent out of Toledo to rush the passer. Sutton Smith has been experimented on offense, lining up as fullback. Smith was a standout running back in high school. In 2018, Smith racked up 15 sacks, 61 tackles, 26.5 TFL, 4 FF, 3 FR, and 1 TD. On defense, Smith was also experimented at inside linebacker, but should be mostly used at outside linebacker as a pass rusher.
The locks for this position are Watt, Dupree, and Chickillo, but Ola Adeniyi proved last year that he belongs on this team and looks to earn meaningful reps. Dupree is on a one year contract and Chickillo is a very likely 2020 cut, which means Ola Adeniyi’s path to being a starter is very clear.
Outside of the locks, Sutton Smith needs to prove he can pass the rusher, but also defend the run. Smith struggled in this area in his college days. Smith may be too versatile and valuable on special teams to be cut, but will the Steelers carry five outside backers? JT Jones is an interesting player. In 8 games in AAF, Jones reeled in four sacks, 13 QB hits, and one forced fumble. He may he subjected to the numbers game, but could wind up on the practice squad. Tuzar Skipper is another interesting addition to this position group. In 13 games in 2018, Skipper totaled 11.5 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 2 FF, 2 FR and 1 TD.