INDIANAPOLIS — James Pierre wasn’t on most people’s checklist of who would appear on the Steelers’ defense Monday night. Sure, Pierre played extremely well against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this season, but with the injury to Ahkello Witherspoon and Arthur Maulet’s struggles against Tee Higgins, Pierre got the call.
After making a diving interception early in the game, Pierre would see his snaps continue to rise throughout the game. Cam Sutton largely slid into the slot on passing downs, which brought Pierre into the game on the outside. However, Sutton did not expect anything less from Pierre. Throughout the week, Pierre conducts himself like a starter and that has proven to Sutton that Pierre is ready whenever his number is called.
“Listen, from what I’ve seen during the week, this guy knows what he’s doing,” Sutton said. “We know what this guy can do, he’s proven it to us, even this season. He played really well against Tampa Bay earlier this year. His interception was a great play. It was an awesome break on the ball. I am excited to see what he can do for us. That’s what he can do. He can ball out”
Pierre has earned the role, and even Mike Tomlin was impressed by the play Pierre made. While it will not guarantee him a role moving forward given the rotating cast of defensive backs that the Steelers use, Pierre has made himself suitable into any gameplan the Steelers may want to throw out there.
“We use everybody in the secondary that’s in a helmet,” Tomlin said. “We’ve kind of been in that mentality all year. The rotation of how we utilize them might change from game to game based on many up components and things of that nature. It’s been pretty consistent that DBs in the helmet, we utilize. We utilize them all.”
Terrell Edmunds mans the top of the Steelers secondary along with Minkah Fitzpatrick, and he was not surprised by what Pierre did one bit. Just like Sutton, there was a level of expectation that Pierre brought upon himself with past performances, and he continues to reach that expectation.
“We are not surprised,” Edmunds said. “You saw what he could do as a ballhawk last year against Denver. It was a heck of a catch, though. But we know what to expect from him. He’s really good, and we’re all seeing that.”
So, it appears that James Pierre could see some time in the future. It’s clear his teammates are not surprised by the play he brought to the table, and Pierre’s arrow continues to trend up as a result.