Pittsburgh Steelers rookie undrafted free agent Josh Mauro would seemed to have climbed the depth chart in advance of the team’s preseason matchup against the New York Giants this past Saturday.
The Steelers released their first depth chart—meaningless as it might be—a few days in advance of the game, on which Mauro is still listed as the third-team right defensive end, behind Brian Arnfelt as the second-team end.
Arnfelt, a second-year undrafted free agent who spent time on both the practice squad and 53-man roster in 2013, was practicing ahead of Mauro until recently. The rookie ended up playing ahead of him in the preseason game as well.
While it was by no means a great performance for Mauro, what it did show was a lot of tenacity, as well as energy, which is a good way to make an impression for a fringe player such as he is looking to get noticed.
Of particular note is the fact that Mauro, and the rest of the Steelers defense, was still facing the Giants’ first-team offensive line. At the very least, he managed to hold his gap on this play well enough to persuade the running back to run the other direction, which was leading him directly to Shamarko Thomas. But the noteworthy element of his play, and most that follow, is Mauro’s pursuit of the ball, crashing into the pile at the end to finish the play.
This play, as with the previous, is largely nondescript in terms of Mauro impacting the outcome directly, this one even less so than the first, but it’s another good example of the inexhaustible motor of the rookie undrafted free agent that was revving all night. The play below follows a similar theme, this time chasing down a pass. This strong work ethic and hustle helped get him reps with the second-team defensive line in sub-packages.
Every now and then, however, he did manage to actually reach a play in time to affect its outcome, rather than being a first responder to a football collision.
Early in the third quarter, with the Giants’ reserve linemen finally in the game, Mauro managed, eventually, to slide off the block of the rookie center to grab hold of the fleeing back and twist him to the ground after a gain of four. Of interest is the fact that starter Cam Thomas ran with Mauro as the second-team defensive line in sub-packages, as on this play above.
The rookie did manage to garner some accolades for this quarterback disruption in the passing game. With outside linebacker Chris Carter rushing the quarterback through the B Gap, Mauro crossed on the blitz, cutting inside the A Gap between left guard and center, blasting the running back, walking him back into Ryan Nassib and bringing him down as he threw it.