PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) — A lot of attention was paid to the seventh-round pick as the Steelers cut their roster to 80 this week. The most surprising thing has not received so much discussion.
It showed up in most OTAs and mini-camps, and even at the start of training camp outside of linebacker, Janard Avery could be the first to give T.J. Watt or Alex Highsmith a break during a game. It turns out that a fifth-year free agent was the first.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin only said that they had decided to move on from Avery. Last season, the 6’2-inch, 250-pounder started 12 and played in 16 games for the Eagles with four tackles for a loss, one sack and 43 tackles. The former Browns’ fifth-round pick had 4.5 sacks as a rookie.
They could always take an announcement about a player that will be released next week or make a trade. It’s still a big possibility, and previous GM Kevin Colbert did it many times.
The Steelers are currently backing outside linebackers, with Alex Highsmith missing most of camp with a rib injury:
· Derrek Carcasswhom the team picked up in September last year.
Transformed SMU protective end Delonte Scott played in one game with the Steelers last year.
· Hamilcar Rashedwho was credited during the training camp.
6ft 5in, 250lb Scott has made a few games in camp with a couple of bounces and pressure in full down situations, but he has no experience. He has four tackles this preseason, and before he signed with the Steelers last September, he was on the Packers practice team in 2020.
The talent has always been with Rashed, second All-American in 2019, leading the FBS with 22.5 tackles per loss and third in the nation with 14 sacks in Oregon. Known for his good hands, effort and athletic ability, he mostly played for the Jets last season on their practice team. He ended up playing only one game with New York and told 93.7 The Fan that he was showing the Steelers he could do it.
“The sky is the limit,” Rashed said. “I have to bring it today, tomorrow and definitely during the game. Whatever happens in the game, take it into your own hands and see what happens.”
He believes he’ll get a start against Detroit Sunday in the preseason finals (Highsmith still won’t be ready to play). Rashed hopes to take as many shots as possible to prove that he can play the entire game if necessary. He instinctively believes that he has a role in this team.
“I can feel it in the atmosphere,” Rashed told 93.7 The Fan. “Coaches say different things to me when we talk. Even the older guys talk to me more, and everything works out together. This is definitely a good start.”
“He’s playing with a good lead, he’s got good fire, real competitive spirit, he’s showing some physicality when he’s attacking,” Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin told 93.7 The Fan. “He has some basic things that we are looking for in this position.”
He’s a guy who puts his head down and minds his own business. So much so that he was wary of approaching TJ Watt to ask him questions. Rashed says that if things go the way he now envisions, he will have plenty of time to get advice from the best quarterback of the year. Watt did not hesitate to share his early impressions.
“He actually has the same outside coach sponsor that I had in college, we have that similarity,” Watt said. “Just being able to translate some of what we called it in college and what we called it here was nice. I think he’s in a good mood, he plays a good run and has a good set of passing rushes. I think he can do something good for us.”
Carcass, on the other hand, wasn’t shy about talking to Watt. He said he asked him all kinds of questions, probably annoying, but Watt didn’t tell him to leave him alone.
“I will never insist that I know and have my experience on the field,” Watt said, noting that Carcass looks much more comfortable this season with the Steelers. “If they want to ask me, I will always be an open book. I never had a problem helping a young guy.”
Carcass has the advantage of spending more time as a teammate, although not by much. He signed on September 28 last year and started playing right away. He never started, but in 15 games played, he took 24% of snaps in defense on the field. The 6’4″ 251-pounder had a forced fumble, a tackle for loss, two sacks and 18 tackles in total.
“I know our defense this year much better than last year,” said Tuska. “I really understood defense. My knowledge of the game has increased significantly. Not only in defense, but also in the knowledge of attacks and special commands, the study of schemes.
“This is a huge opportunity. I feel like my role will be bigger than last year, which will give TJ and Alex a breather in the middle of the series, and special teams will be important to me.”
“I think it’s a good fight to see who will be our third and fourth backers,” Austin said. “They have to continue to prove it on the field. We really won’t know until we get into gaming situations. Derrek has the most gaming experience and we know we can trust Derrek to do the right thing and be in the right places. Some of the other guys are more unknown, but we like what they’ve shown so far.”
Will these three be able to support two key players, or will the deal go through?
This proves that there are more questions than who will be the starting quarterback.