LATROBE, Pa (WTAJ) — With all the attention squarely on the Steeler’s offense, the team’s defense has slid under the radar.
But after a disappointing year, Pittsburgh must answer some questions on that side of the ball.
A year ago, the Steelers lead the league in sacks and were 9th in passing defense. Pittsburgh was also 24th in yards allowed per game, and dead last in rush defense.
The team replaces retired defensive coordinator Dick LaBeau with Teryl Austin and also loses defensive end Stefon Tuitt to retirement. Yet with newcomers like Myles Jack and Larry Ogunjobi defense might make a needed change for Pittsburgh defense.
“I think we’ve improved our depth,” defensive lineman Cam Heyward said. “Having a guy like Larry Ogunjobi come in, you know, Wormley’s back, Loudermilk’s a year older. You draft a guy like Leal, all of those are sound pieces.”
Returnees like safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and outside linebacker T.J. Watt are two of the best in the NFL at their positions. After arriving in Latrobe on Tuesday, July 26 Watt praised the man who lines up opposite him, Alex Highsmith.
“If you watch any film on Alex, you can tell that the stats don’t always correlate to how well he’s playing,” Watt said. “He has a lot of great moves and he plays the run really well as well. So I’m just looking forward to him taking that next step and finishing those plays this year, which I think is what capable of doing.”
“I think it just continues to work on my bend because there’s a few times I noticed where I was I was ripping and been around the corner and the quarterback just stepped up,” Highsmith said. “I got pushed by so I was working little things like that just continue to work my get off and pass those moves as well. So I’m just excited for the year you’re ahead and I feel like it’s been a good start.”
In his second year with the Steelers, Highsmith had 74 tackles and six sacks. The Steelers’ 55 sacks, led the NFL.
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Moving forward this season the Steeler’s defense is something to keep on your radar. However, only time will tell if the team has made the necessary changes.