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Steelers Star Cam Heyward Somewhat Surprised by Benching of NT Tyson Alualu in 2022

Jordan Schofield / SteelerNation (Twitter: @JSKO_PHOTO)

Steelers Star Cam Heyward Somewhat Surprised by Benching of NT Tyson Alualu in 2022

Earlier in the week, the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff made a somewhat surprising move. In the team’s updated depth chart, 13-year NFL veteran Tyson Alualu was no longer listed as the team’s starting nose tackle. Montravius Adams’ name is now listed with the first team, as Alualu has been relegated to the second team.

Steelers Montravius Adams

Credit: Jordan Schofield/SteelerNation (JSKO_PHOTO Twitter)

The run defense was the worst in the league in 2021, and those struggles have continued into this season. In the Week 3 loss to the Cleveland Browns, the defense failed to get off the field on a consistent basis. The Browns’ rushing attack, led by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, gashed the Steelers for 171 rushing yards.

Through three games, the Steelers have given up the fifth-most rushing yards (428), allowing 142.7 per game. As a result, the staff felt the need to make a change. Alualu has struggled in his return from the ankle injury that he suffered last season, so that’s where the change has been made. Fellow defensive lineman and friend, Cam Heyward, admitted that he never saw this coming in his press conference:

“Ty’s my guy. I never thought it was gonna be this thing where they were going back and forth, but both guys will contribute on Sunday no matter what,” Heyward said. “It doesn’t matter who is starting, both guys will play. I know you don’t want to hear that as a veteran, but those are the cards dealt.

Alualu came to Pittsburgh in 2017 and has been very good for the team ever since. He spent the first seven years of his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he didn’t quite live up to the expectations from being the 10th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Fast forward a few years, and he made a noticeable impact with the Steelers, forming a great defensive line trio with Heyward and Stephon Tuitt.

Steelers Defensive Lineman Cameron Heyward and Stefon Tuitt

AP Photo / Gene J. Puskar

Last season, the ankle injury was quite devastating to both Alualu and the Steelers’ defensive line. Now 35 years old in his sixth season with the team, he’s built a close relationship with Heyward. While Adams may not necessarily be a full-time starter in the long-term, this does feel like a bit of a passing of the guard moment. Heyward made sure to praise Adams as well:

“Montravius is a great player. We were very lucky to get him when we got him last year,” Heyward said via his press conference. “He’s coachable, he’s always trying to learn, he’s cat-like quick. He can get off blocks and display some good hands.”

The Steelers picked Adams up off the New Orleans Saints practice squad in the middle of the 2021 season, as he was mostly a journeyman before coming to Pittsburgh. While Adams is listed as the starter, Alualu will still get some opportunities as Heyward mentioned. For the foreseeable future, the nose tackle position will likely be a revolving door for the Steelers, rotating guys in and out of the lineup. The front office, led by former GM Kevin Colbert in his last draft with the team, did seem to be interested in some defensive linemen in the draft process.

Steelers Resigning General Manager Kevin Colbert

Don Wright / AP Photo

Jordan Davis from the University of Georgia was a notable name that was linked to the Steelers throughout the draft process. The rookie lineman is now excelling with the Philadelphia Eagles, as they are the last remaining undefeated team in the league. Alualu’s age and decline just gives more reason for GM Omar Khan to pursue a defensive lineman in the 2023 NFL Draft.

 

Were you surprised by the Steelers demoting Alualu to the second team? How do you think Adams will do as the starter now? Should the team draft a NT in the 2023 NFL Draft? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below. Also, be sure to interact with our social media sites, yinz!

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Credit to my dad, I have been a lifelong Steelers fan. I have fond memories of watching the Steelers win two Super Bowls when I was a little kid. I have only been to 1 Steelers game in my life, which was in Kansas City. That was the notorious game where Antonio Brown pinned it against his chest down the sidelines for a touchdown. I hope to get to Heinz Field some day! I graduated from Iowa State University and look forward to growing as a writer with #SteelerNation!

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. James L Hinton Jr.

    October 1, 2022 at 10:58 am

    Alualu ankle may not be 100% so Adams starting will give him more time to heal up while looking at our younger players. Would love to see our D-Line disrupt the passing lanes over the middle we been getting killed between the numbers… let’s go Steelers!!!!!

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