Charles LeClaire, USA Today Sports
I covered the first half of the game from the standpoint of the defensive front in Part 2, and we’ll move on to the second half of the game, where a host of young guys had a opportunity to catch the eye of the coaching staff.
As I explained in Part I, I decided to go back and review the Steelers/Lions games from the standpoint of a scout, since the Steelers are clearly setting up their game plan with the idea of winning it as a very secondary concern. So let’s look at some of the guys on the bubble in the defensive front.
The first question is, who was getting the playing time, and where? I would go through and figure it out myself except that there’s no need to duplicate the fine work done by Dave Bryan at Steelers Depot. The big questions are, 1. Who starts at nose tackle in the 3-4 alignment, 2. Who backs up Tuitt and Heyward, and 3. Who plays in the sub-packages?
AP photo/Ben Margot
Last season Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward played an unbelievable number of snaps for the Steelers—88% of them for Heyward, almost 79% for Tuitt. Part of the reason was, of course, that they were the best options. But part of the reason they didn’t get more time off more often was that they were more or less the only options.
This season may look rather different for them. It wasn’t looking good at first. The Steelers didn’t re-sign Cam Thomas, something which was rather expected in the face of his ineffectiveness. They also let Steve McLendon walk, and he signed with the Jets. This took the backups from “dangerously thin” to “practically non-existent.”