PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Coming into 2020, the Steelers return the majority of their defensive line which helped accumulate a league-best 54 sacks in 2019. With Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward providing experience, Tyson Alualu and Daniel McCullers will provide depth for both the defensive line and tackle positions.
To start camp, it’s a combination of seven linemen and five tackles to make up the 12 defensive line roster spots:
- Calvin Taylor, Rookie (Kentucky)
- Josiah Coatney, Rookie (Mississippi)
- Dewayne Hendrix, 1st Season
- Henry Mondeaux, 1st Season
- Isaiah Buggs, 2nd Season
- Stephon Tuitt, 7th Season
- Tyson Alualu, 11th Season
- Carlos Davis, Rookie (Nebraska)
- Cavon Walker, 1st Season
- Chris Wormley, 4th Season
- Dan McCullers, 7th Season
- Cameron Heyward, 10th Season
Projected ‘Starters on Sundays’: Cameron Heyward (Tackle), Stephon Tuitt (Lineman), Tyson Alualu (Lineman)
Heyward returns after posting a career-high in tackles of 71 with 39 of them coming solo. He also added nine sacks ranking third amongst Steeler defenders. Heyward will have the opportunity to lead the defensive line while continuing to build his case as one of the best defensive linemen to wear Black and Gold.
Tuitt and Alualu are expected to round out the three down linemen look for Pittsburgh. Tuitt missed 10 games in 2019, but will be back to work the outside edge. With the departure of Javon Hargrave (nose tackle), it could force Alualu into the nose tackle spot in certain defensive packages.
Alualu joined the Steelers in 2017 after seven seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but it wasn’t until last year that he turned in his best performance for the Steelers, totaling 33 tackles and two pass deflections
Reserves: Chris Wormley (Tackle), Isaiah Buggs (Lineman), Daniel McCullers (Tackle)
With Hargrave out, Wormley should see significant time at the nose tackle position. On March 20, the Steelers acquired Wormley from division foe, Baltimore. In three seasons with the Ravens, the fourth-year man from Michigan had 53 tackles, 2.5 sacks and seven pass deflections. Wormley brings youth to a defensive line that already has plenty of experience in Heyward and Tuitt.
Buggs comes into his second year but saw action in just nine games in 2019. McCullers spent time in all 16 games last year but had just 8 tackles. Due to Wormley’s ability at nose tackle, it’s likely Buggs and McCullers will battle it out for the primary back-up at defensive end.
During coach Mike Tomlin’s career, he’s always kept six or seven linemen on the 53-man roster. With Wormley, Buggs and McCullers all strong options on the sideline, it’s likely he goes with six this year and these three men will complete that roster total.
Battling for a Spot: Henry Mondeaux (Lineman), Carlos Davis (Tackle)
If Tomlin keeps a seventh lineman, Mondeaux or Davis will have to earn it. Mondeaux was cut last pre-season but could’ve used the off-season and extra time to work out and prepare to make a roster push, only time will tell. Mondeaux, however, will have to battle it out with the rookie, Davis.
Davis was picked in the seventh round of this year’s draft. The former Cornhusker was a two-sport athlete, running track and field in addition to his starting position on the football team. He had 32 tackles and four sacks his senior campaign at Nebraska.
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