The Pittsburgh Steelers have the potential to have a very good defensive line but is always the case, health is a big part of that. Our Training Camp Previews move to the defensive side of the ball where we look at the Steelers front.
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By The Numbers
2019 Opponent Passing Yards: 3,113 (3rd)
2019 Opponent Passing Yards Per Attempt: 6.7 (T-6th)
2019 Pass Rush: 54 sacks (1st) (*3rd year in a row leading the league)
2019 Opponent Rushing Yards: 1,753 (14th)
2018 Opponent Rushing Yards Per Carry: 3.8 (3rd)
2019 Rushing yards Allowed per Game: 109.6 (14th)
Cameron Heyward (10 seasons)
The only real question about Heyward is whether or not he gets the contract extension prior to the beginning of the season that we all know he deserves. Not only has he been a consistently good player but he has also provided great leadership on the team and in the community.
Stephon Tuitt (7 seasons)
We say this every year but it bears repeating; Tuitt is the most physically gifted D-Lineman the Steelers have. Then there’s the “but.” But only if he can stay healthy. The former Notre Dame product was absolutely dominating before being lost for the season in 2019. He can be a dominant force and I speak for all of us when I say we want him ready to go for 2020.
Tyson Alualu (11 seasons)
This has been one of the more underrated signings in Kevin Colbert’s time as General Manager for the Steelers. The former first round draft pick has been super steady as a reserve and spot starter anywhere along the defensive front. There has been speculation this could be his last year as the “retirement” word has been mentioned.
Dan McCullers (7 seasons)
If you had told me that when McCullers was drafted that he would would still be in the Steel City in 2020 I would have expected that it was due to him becoming a superstar. That is certainly not the case. To this credit, McCullers has worked hard to drop weight and transform his body. He plays very few snaps and flashes his dominance very seldom. His team-friendly contract helps keep him around but should other guys step up this could be it for him.
Isaiah Buggs (2 seasons)
Reunited with his D-Line Coach Karl Dunbar, Buggs was a late round pick from Alabama in 2018. He played in nine games as a rookie recording three tackles. Like McCullers, there’s not guarantee for him either in terms of the roster but things were headed in the right direction last season.
Chris Wormley, Carlos Davis, Josiah Coatney, Dewayne Hendrix, Calvin Taylor, Cavon Walker
Wormley is an ex-Michigan product who spent his career with the Ravens until being traded to the Steelers for a fifth round draft selection. Although he’s currently listed as a nose tackle, I expect him to play outside as his build is much more fit for that role… Davis was a seventh round pick by the Steelers out of Nebraska. He seems to be locked in as a defensive tackle or nose but will have his work cut out for him to make the squad.
As usual, let’s get to what we know. Heyward, Tuitt, Alualu and Wormley will make the roster. The Steelers typically keep six on the defensive line so who are those other two guys? You see below who I have listed but do not be surprised if both Buggs and McCullers are out and two other players slide in. In fact, with the way things are going to go with no preseason and an extended Training Camp, you could see more team-to-team movement. That means the Steelers could very well look for someone who is cut from another team. It always goes without saying but injuries to this unit would be devastating.
D-Line: Heyward, Tuitt, Alualu, Wormley, Buggs, (McCullers or a someone currently not on the roster)