Tomlin hasn’t seen ‘enough’ yet to name Derrek Tuszka OLB #3 on the depth chart
After practice on Tuesday, Mike Tomlin took the time to address the media at a press conference to provide an injury update and insight into the performances of RB Jaylen Warren and DL Isaiahh Loudermilk.
When asked about OLB Derrek Tuszka and his thoughts as OLB3 by a member of the media, Tomlin was quick to respond that Tuszka still has a lot to prove to earn that designation for the team in the outside linebacker rotation.
“He works,” Tomlin answered the question via video via Steelers.com. “He works with a group of others to distinguish himself. And so we’ll keep slamming the ball and seeing what these guys do, but not enough to talk about how you’re referencing yet.
The way the reporter referred to Tuszka is like the team’s OLB3 on the depth chart and primary backup to TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith. Last season, Tuszka shared that primary backup role with Taco Charlton after Melvin Ingram was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. Signed by Pittsburgh to their practice squad after the Denver Broncos released him before the start of the 2021 season, Tuszka was promoted to the roster of 53 players on September 28. During the season, Tuszka appeared in 15 games and played 247 defensive snaps as well as 194 special teams snaps according to Professional Football Reference. Tuszka posted 18 tackles, a TFL, two sacks and a forced fumble.
In 2022, Tuszka finds herself competing with Genard Avery, Tuzar Skipper, Delontae Scott and Ron’Dell Carter for a backup spot behind Watt and Highsmith. While Tuszka is ahead of Scott, Carter and Skipper in terms of regular season experience, he needs to show improvement from his brief flashes last season to justify earning the roster spot, let alone to get the OLB3 job which seems to be the best suited for Avery at the moment given his previous experience as well as his performance in training camp.
Outside linebacker depth has often been a position that has been tied to the Steelers in terms of adding a more experienced and proven player before the start of the regular season. Given how many cuts are happening before Week 1, it’s plausible that Pittsburgh is taking this time to assess the guys they have internally before looking outside the organization for potential free agents or players who could be cut off by other teams. In summary, Derrek Tuszka is probably not only fighting for the OLB3 job in Pittsburgh this season, but he’s also fighting for a roster spot with the building guys and the Pittsburgh guys might have their eye on the recruitment.