The Pittsburgh Steelers decided to enter the 2014 season with only three true outside linebackers on their 53 man roster and as a result, Arthur Moats will be asked to back up both Jason Worlds and Jarvis Jones.
During his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked in Moats, who spent his first four seasons in the league with the Buffalo Bills, will rotate in at either of the two outside linebacker spots early on in the season.
“He’s capable, of course how we’re getting off the field will dictate that,” said Tomlin. “Fresh bodies are the best bodies, particularly if they’re capable of being reasons why we win. We believe he is. We’ll let the game circumstances dictate the usage.”
In the past, the Steelers haven’t been known to pull their two outside linebackers off of the field unless they were injured. With Worilds being paid $9.754 million this season and Jones being a former first-round draft pick, you would hope that both are conditioned enough to stay on the field even during long drives against the defense.
However, with the above being stated, it would be very surprising if Moats doesn’t play 100 or more snaps on defense in 2014 based on recent history.
As I wrote back in March following the release of linebacker LaMarr Woodley, the last time the Steelers had both of their starting outside linebackers each play 91% or more of all defensive snaps during the regular season was in 2010 when James Harrison logged 1022 defensive snaps and Woodley logged 954 of a possible 1,044.
Moats played well during the preseason and his ability to play both sides is what probably ultimately led to the team deciding to finally part ways with former fifth-round draft pick Chris Carter, who showed next to nothing during the limited playing time that he received during his first three years in the league.
Backing up Moats will be former undrafted free agent Terence Garvin, who linebackers coach Keith Butler described as being the team’s swing linebacker because of his ability to play both inside and outside. The only problem with that is the fact that Garvin failed to play any snaps outside during the preseason.
Outside linebacker is certainly one position that the Steelers can’t afford to suffer an injury at, because if they do, they might have to talk James Harrison into coming out of his recent retirement.