It took an injured-reserve stint, a separate knee surgery, the loss of a peer via waivers and a foot injury to one of the players ahead of him on the depth chart. But at last, it appears as if it’s Ola’s time.
Ola Adeniyi likely enters Sunday’s game at the San Francisco 49ers as the Steelers’ No. 3 outside linebacker behind starters Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt. And with the Steelers showing a tendency to rotate bodies at the position and with forecasted temperatures in the 80s for Sunday in Santa Clara, Calif., Adeniyi could have an opportunity for a significant role on defense.
“I am just trying to earn my stripes now, but when I get to play defense, I will, obviously, going to ball out,” Adeniyi said Friday. “But my main focus is probably special teams. We’ve got great guys that at that outside linebacker spot, so I’ve just got to earn it off special teams.”
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Adeniyi has had a role on special teams this season, playing 17 snaps after not playing during his short stint on the active roster in 2018. Adeniyi opened last season as an undrafted free agent on IR.
He came into this regular season two weeks removed from minor knee surgery and as one of five outside linebackers on the roster, including backups Anthony Chickillo and undrafted rookie Tuzar Skipper. But the Steelers lost Skipper when they tried to slide him through waivers on the eve of the season opener, and Chickillo is suffering from plantar fasciitis and won’t play Sunday.
After having three sacks during last year’s preseason, Adeniyi’s apparent shot on defense is a long time coming. Is he raring to go, eager to show he can make an impact?
“I am always going to feel like that,” he said, “but I knew my role coming into this is going to be special teams, and I have enjoyed every bit of it and I am striving on that.”
Adeniyi had four defensive snaps in last week’s loss to Seattle after he played nine snaps last season.