Over the years, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been notorious for not giving young defensive players much playing time as rookies. However, that has changed this year as linebackers Jarvis Jones and Vince Williams, along with safety Shamarko Thomas, have seen quite a bit of playing time this season as rookies.
That trio of draft picks aren't the only ones to buck system this season, either, as undrafted rookie free agent linebacker Terence Garvin has recently started to receive playing time over the course of the last several weeks as well.
While it is probably mostly due to outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley missing the last three plus games with a calf injury, Garvin, who was originally signed following a tryout at the Steelers rookie mini camp, has logged a total of 10 snaps on defense in three of the last four games. In the Thursday night loss to the Baltimore Ravens, he saw a season-high five snaps on defense, with four of them coming late in the first quarter.
When Garvin was on the field against the Ravens, the Steelers were in their nickel sub package instead of their quarters sub package that they have used predominantly this season. Before Woodley went down, the Steelers would occasionally have him, Jones and Jason Worilds all on the field at the same time on passing downs along with two extra defensive backs and two down defensive linemen.
Garvin was a safety/linebacker hybrid at West Virginia. His athleticism and ability to tackle has made a regular on special teams as a rookie and it appears right now that the Steelers view him as an inside nickelbacker for the time being.
While the West Virginia product has only registered one tackle thus far in his limited playing time, the fact that he has been given a few snaps is something to watch for moving forward, especially when Woodley returns to action.