Versatile linebacker Moats getting up to speed with Steelers
Dick LeBeau watched with angst last season as age and injuries left the Steelers defense vulnerable to open-field runners and game-breaking receivers.
The venerable defensive coordinator had to come to grips with the reality that the Steelers lacked sufficient speed to slow down the likes of Minnesota's Adrian Peterson and Detroit's Calvin Johnson.
In a league in which speed is a necessity, the Steelers were lagging.
The Steelers discovered speed during the NFL Draft and in the free agent market. They landed Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier in the first round and signed two free agents: free safety Mike Mitchell and linebacker Arthur Moats.
“We had as good of an OTA (organized team activities) session as I've been a part of,” LeBeau said. “I'm excited about where we are.”
Mostly, LeBeau is excited about an infusion of speed. With Shazier, Moats, second-year linebacker Jarvis Jones and a healthy Cortez Allen at one corner, the Steelers are capable of recovering from missed tackles and blown assignments.
Moats, who played with the Buffalo Bills the past four seasons, is among the Steelers' most intriguing offseason acquisitions. He is a fast, versatile linebacker with immeasurable energy and an uncanny ability to adapt, considering he played for three defensive coordinators in Buffalo.
“I feel I bring a lot of versatility being able to play inside and out,” said Moats, who played mostly on the outside during minicamp. “At the same time, I know what it takes to be a part of the defense that has had success.”
The James Madison product, playing alongside linebacker Kiko Alonso, helped the Bills finish fourth in total defense in the AFC last season. But he had only 54 combined tackles — 105 less than Alonso.
The Steelers needed help at linebacker after the departure of LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison and Larry Foote the past two years. Moats considered other options, but he said the Steelers were an easy pick.
“I wanted a situation where I could contribute immediately and compete for a starting job,” Moats said. “I understand my role, so when I saw all the losses at linebacker, I was prepared to jump at the opportunity because I think we had a mutual interest.
“I wanted to come here, and they wanted me.
“It's an honor to be a part of a legacy and tradition of great linebackers. You definitely want to advance it further.”
While Moats can make the transition from outside to inside linebacker, he already has made an impression on special teams, a unit that often was as inconsistent as the defense during last season's 8-8 campaign.
“The Steelers have had a lot of success, and I'm confident they have the talent to compete for another championship,” Moats said. “They're trying to get over that little stumble they've had recently, and I'm sure I can help.
“I feel like my situation in Buffalo helped me a lot, including having three different defensive coordinators. I can't come out here half-stepping, so I'll be ready when camp starts.”
The Steelers are scheduled to report to training camp July 25 at St. Vincent. The first scheduled practice is July 26.
Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers not limiting themselves in free agency
- Big names become available this week via free agency; will Steelers be tempted?
- Steelers’ decision for NFL Draft: Pass rusher or cornerback?
- Steelers restructure Gilbert, Mitchell contracts; Pouncey close
- Steelers’ Harrison announces desire to play one more year
- Depth a concern for Steelers’ Colbert
- Time running out for Steelers’ third-string quarterback Jones?
- Gorman: Steelers botch Big Ben’s negotiation
- Steelers GM Colbert prepared to look at all options before draft
- Steelers GM Colbert looks at NFL Combine as important piece of puzzle