Steelers’ Comfort In OLB Group Supported By Early Camp Returns

If the Pittsburgh Steelers feel that there are legitimate concerns about their depth at the outside linebacker position, they’re certainly not letting on, even if general manager Kevin Colbert said Monday that they had not yet ruled out anybody from being re-signed, implying that James Harrison was still an option.

Much like the wide receiver or cornerback position earlier this year, it certainly seems as though the Steelers internally are more comfortable with the stable of outside linebackers that they currently have than are outside observers.

You’ll remember, of course, all of the hand-wringing, which admittedly came even from myself, when the Steelers cleared the first two days of the 2014 NFL Draft without introducing a new wide receiver or cornerback to the team.

Pittsburgh didn’t even take an outside linebacker in the draft, and only brought in one as an undrafted free agent. In fact, they drafted two inside linebackers, although fifth-rounder Jordan Zumwalt is being flexed as an inside-outside linebacker.

Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons once found himself pressed into service at outside linebacker back in 2011 when the aforementioned Harrison missed four games due to an orbital bone fracture in his skull.

It didn’t go quite as linebackers coach Keith Butler might have drawn it up. Timmons hardly registered a tackle in those games, and got very little pressure on the quarterback, so he knows how difficult it is to play outside linebacker in this system.

Yet when he spoke about the group that the Steelers have on Sunday, he was pleased with what he was seeing—much to his relief:

“I think we’ve got enough outside linebackers now to where I’m not needed there anymore”, he told reporters, before adding, “I’m strictly inside”.

The Steelers brought in former Buffalo Bills linebacker Arthur Moats in via free agency earlier this year, and it appears that he will serve as the third outside linebacker behind Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones should either go down with an injury.

Early indications from all three have been strong. Worilds ran with the speedy Dri Archer in coverage and ended up intercepting the pass during the last practice. Jones also met with positive reviews, having done well in taking on Kelvin Beachum one-on-one and beating him with multiple techniques during drills.

Moats, too, has been opening many eyes through the early part of camp, as we have written earlier this week.

Timmons also mentioned Vic So’oto, as well as the undrafted free agent Howard Jones, as players looking to provide depth at outside linebacker along with Chris Carter.

That’s not to mention Zumwalt and Terence Garvin, both of whom would seem to be competing head-to-head to secure the Stevenson Sylvester Award, also known as the ninth linebacker that can play all four positions and contribute on special teams.

Of course, there’s still lots of camp left before we can work out just what this outside linebacker class is made of, and whether or not it could use a reinforcement like an aging former Defensive Player of the Year. But the Steelers want you to know that, as of right now, they feel they’re doing just fine off the edge.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Paddy

    The fact that Jones made Beachum look sick is great but now I worry about LT

  • Bradys_Dad

    I’m really looking forward to seeing what Howard Jones (no relation to the 80’s synth pop star) can bring to the table. Hopefully he gets a fair shot.

  • shenharris

    The fact that Jones made Beachum look sick is great

  • mem359

    Don’t crack up.
    Bend… your hips.
    Play… both sides.
    Throw off your mental chains.

  • srdan

    I love the Moats signing. That may be the one signing where we look back come week 10 and be astonished that we grabbed him at thta price. I think teh Blount & Mitchell signing will be flashier since the media will be talking about them all teh time, but Moats is going to really help this team.

  • steeltown

    Mike Adams getting the better of C.Carter at padded practice on Monday… not sure if that is a tribute to Adams improvement or the continued lackluster play of Carter… really hoping So’oto makes some noise in preseason.

  • steeltown

    Indeed. He will see the field at some point. He’s not a known commodity but he plays the run well and im not sure BUF used him correctly. Sometimes a change in scenery and scheme can work wonders.

  • I hope this continues. It would be great to go three days without someone calling for Harrison to be resigned.

  • dkoy85

    Haha funny how that works. I’ve got to admit that I’ve been wondering if it was more Beachum’s fault rather than Jones making the leap, but I just have a feeling it was all Jones. He said he got stronger, he looks stronger, and I read that his punch looks strong. Still waaaay to early to tell but my fingers are crossed.

  • Biggie

    If Carter doesn’t show up big this TC I think his time is done and time to give another young guy as 4th OLB, be it H. Jones, Zumwalt, So’oto or Garvin. Carter has alot to prove that he should continue on the roster.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I would like to sign Harrison but would probably prefer too many of these guys show enough to keep him off the roster.

    It’s would be funny if we end up trading Moore and Cam Thomas because they get bumped so far down the depth chart after all the offseason panic.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    All Jones or not, that was a little scary. We can’t have even elite players walk to the QB against anything less than a double team.

    I guess the other possibility is going with an approach that always gives help at LT in exchange for spending that money somewhere else.