It’s a good problem to have. But still, a problem, and one we’ve discussed a dozen times on this site. How does Javon Hargrave get more snaps?
It’s a question the Pittsburgh Steelers are still asking themselves.
With the bye week, the assistant coaches talked to the media and John Mitchell was asked about Hargrave’s playing time.
“I’d like to get him on the field more,” Mitchell said in an interview via Steelers.com. “But now I have a decision. I have to take either Cam or 91 off the field.”
For the year, Hargrave has played 47% of the defense’s snaps, a number that has been helped at least a little by the absence of Stephon Tuitt. Cam Heyward is at an 85% clip and only counting games Tuitt has finished is even higher, playing 86.7% of the time.
But Hargrave’s talent and production is undeniable and the always candid Mitchell had nothing but good things to say about him.
“This man is a smart guy. He has the physical attributes to be a good football player and he’s showing it every week. I got nothing but a lot of praise for him. But he’s doing it every day in practice.”
Rare praise on such a young player. We have an interview with Aaron Smith tomorrow who has a different experience early in his career with Mitchell. But Hargrave’s earned it all, already matching last season’s sack total of two. He made impactful play after impactful play in last Sunday’s win over Detroit, including a 4th and goal pressure to preserve the win.
Getting into specifics, Mitchell talked about what makes Hargrave as successful as he’s been.
“First of all, he uses his hands. For a young guy, in his second year, he uses his hands as well as anybody I’ve had this early in his career. And plus, he can get off blocks. And this guy, it doesn’t look like he’s running fast but he’s running pretty fast…he’s a smart football player. Good football players get blocked but don’t stay blocked.”
In a world of sub-package football, it’s tough to find room for a nose tackle. But the Steelers need to find the magic touch, the right balance, to keep Hargrave on the field.