Steel Mill A.M.: Steelers haven't had 2 every-down OLBs in some time
Joey Porter is suggesting the Steelers aim to ride their top two outside linebackers for as many snaps as they can this season.
That hasn't happened with the Steelers in recent memory.
No outside linebacker for the team over the past two seasons played more than 56 percent of the defensive snaps, and not in any of the past five seasons have two Steelers outside linebackers played more than 63 percent of the defensive snaps in any one season.
This all according to the snap counts compiled by footballoutsiders.com, which compiles snap counts back to 2012. Until 2010, the Steelers almost annually had two premier pass rushers on the edge to lean on. It was James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley from 2008-10; before that, it was Porter – now the Steelers' outside linebackers coach – and a high-profile running mate on the edge (be it Jason Gildon, Clark Haggans or Harrison).
But in recent years, through a combination of injury (Woodley's body broke down after 2010), age (Harrison is now 39) and players who failed to meet expectations (former first-round pick Jarvis Jones ultimately lost his starting job), the Steelers had split snap counts at outside linebacker.
From the beginning of the 2015 season until December of last season, both outside linebacker spots were on series-by-series rotations that were stuck to relatively rigidly. But down the stretch and into the playoffs last season, the Steelers settled on Harrison on the right side and Bud Dupree on the left.
This season, if Porter is believed in what he said to Steelers Nation Radio on Monday, the Steelers are making first-round pick T.J. Watt the starter in lieu of Harrison on the right with Dupree the man on the left side.
The most recent outside linebacker to play more than 56 percent of the Steelers' defensive snaps in a season was Jason Worilds in 2014. He retired unexpectedly after that season.
The most recent time the Steelers had two outside linebackers play even 60 percent of the defensive snaps, it was Harrison (82.3 percent) and Woodley (63 percent) in 2012.
Arthur Moats and Anthony Chickillo are the next men up after Dupree, Watt and Harrison at outside linebacker for the Steelers, with injured rookie seventh-round pick Keion Adams, first-year Farrington Huguenin and the just-signed-Monday rookie Austin Gearing also on the camp roster.
Steelers outside linebacker snap counts the past five season
Listed by percentage of team defensive snaps for the season
James Harrison, 56.1%
Jarvis Jones, 45.3%
Arthur Moats, 37.9%
Bud Dupree 30.4%
Anthony Chickillo 30.2%
Jason Worilds, 98.8%
LaMarr Woodley, 53.6%
Stevenson Sylvester, 9.3%
Chris Carter, 10.4%
Notes From Camp
Quote of the day: “I am never gonna turn down reps. That's something where as much film as I can get on tape, that's me not only getting that conditioning and getting those NFL game reps but also getting film reps to be able to study from and get better from. So I am never gonna turn down reps.” –Watt, on the abundance of snaps he'd gotten both in practice last week and during the first preseason game
Stock Up: S Jacob Hagen. Hagen broke up the final two passes of the Seven Shots (2-point conversion simulation that opens the team drills session of practice each day) on Monday. In his third NFL training camp, Hagen is showing some strides.
Stock Down: RB Brandon Brown-Dukes. With Le'Veon Bell yet to report and James Conner out for most of the first two weeks of camp, Brown-Dukes and others had an opportunity to get extra reps and get noticed. Brown-Dukes didn't stand out – and now Conner is back, presumably with Bell to follow eventually.
Schedule: Off day Tuesday, return to practice Wednesday.