The Pittsburgh Steelers have found some recent luck in finding key guys to be a part of their secondary unit. As we all know, throughout the past couple of seasons, the Steelers secondary has been what held the team down defensively, not being able to counter much of anything compared to the amount of pressure our defensive line has been getting on a consistent basis. The Steelers have taken steps in the right direction by acquiring some big name secondary players such as Minkah Fitzpatrick and Joe Haden to help bolster this defense into becoming a more balanced unit, and we have seen major progressions since both of these names were added to the roster.
The big question has been, what other kind of help can the Steelers get in the secondary? Maybe finding other players that fill specific roles in the secondary that help take some of the pressure off of the big name guys? We saw the emergence of former Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton right before our eyes, as he was able to create a name for himself on this defense and in the NFL as a whole before signing a free agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals this off-season. We are now also starting to see Cam Sutton reap some of the benefits that this defense gives him, signing a multi-year deal with the Steelers this off-season and quickly starting to make a name for himself now across the league.
Fortunately, this season has been no different in this regard. Not only has Sutton been stepping up to the plate this season as his first year as a starter, but we are starting to see positive progression from the inexperienced guys as well. Guys like Arthur Maulet and Tre Norwood have been holding their own throughout the first six games of the season and don’t show signs of stopping. Maulet has been filling in the role that Hilton left over for him at the slot position and has even drawn comparisons to Hilton himself by many who watch Steeler football. Norwood, was a shock to make the team after being drafted in the seventh round by the Steelers but has shown the reason as to why he is on the roster through his first six games as a Steeler. Norwood has been a ballhawk so far this season and has shown the ability to play down in the box, as well as cover the deep half of the secondary. He has been all over the field when on, and his name has come up in a good amount of key situations on defense and his team is noticing.
In an article by Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com, the coaching staff as well as Norwood himself, commented on his progression this season. Talking about how he went from a seventh round choice, to a guy who is starting to find his role on one of the best defenses in the NFL.
“Tre’s been doing well,” secondary coach Teryl Austin said. “He gets a little better with more experience, really sharp player, so you don’t see him making the same mistakes twice, which is good. He’s really been coming in on the dime personnel because we like his pass savvy and his route-recognition skills.”
“I think he’s become a good player and a good fit for us because of how smart he is, what he does. He’s got good underneath coverage skills, got good route recognition, awareness,” Austin said. “He’s a tough kid, and that’s why he’s able to carve out that niche early with us, and it’ll keep growing.”
Having Norwood on the field this consistently has allowed for the Steelers to use Maulet more in the slot than originally planned. His presence has allowed for this secondary to be more of a versatile unit, which is exactly what defensive coordinator Kevin Butler has wanted. Although a seventh round pick, Norwood has shown the ability to be a force when his name is called, something he said he has been well prepared for.
“It’s just study habits,” Norwood said Monday. “That’s something I’ve always prided myself on, especially starting back in college [at Oklahoma]. Just making sure that whenever I’m learning something new, that I pick it up in the quickest way possible. Apply it to myself, the best way that I can learn. I feel like that’s what helps me out a lot, taking what the coaching point is, or whatever needs to be learned, and breaking it down into terms that fit best with me.”
We can only hope that the positive signs we are seeing continue to progress for not only Norwood, but the secondary as a whole. Not only is defense rostered for a playoff run, but the team as a whole is built to win now, and if younger guys like Norwood and such can continue to produce, the Steelers seem to be on the right track for the remaining 11 games on the schedule.
Do you think Tre Norwood can continue to be a key part of this defense? Comment below!