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David Perales Slimmed Down in Hopes of Contributing on Special Teams



Steelers David Perales

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed Perales as a priority free agent following the 2023 NFL Draft after the Fresno State product went undrafted. While he received a three-year deal, his contract was terminated and he spent most of his time on the Steelers practice squad.

For Perales, last year was a learning lesson and he went to work in the offseason to right what was wrong with is game which was his weight.

“After last year I really wanted to improve and I ended up losing 15 pounds so I feel a lot better” Perales told Alan Saunders of Steelers Now. “I think overall it was a really good offseason for me.”

One reason that Perales wanted to lose some weight was to better his position to make the team as a special teamer. He cited that nobody was heavier than Nick Herbig on special teams, who was around the 240-pound mark.

“Just trying to get more into a special teams role,” Perales said. “If you think about all of the guys on special teams last year nobody was even, well except Nick Herbig, he was around 240 [pounds], nobody was heavier than that. So, I view it as if I want to make the team I need to be able to play special teams and I am going to do what it takes.”

Coming out of Fresno State, Perales wanted and thought that he needed to be heavier as a pass rusher. He quickly found out that he did not need to be and it would be smarter to be slimmer with more speed.

“I think it is more so, I came out of college thinking I had to be 260,” Perales explained. “In reality that is not really what it is. As long as you are comfortable and have technique and can show that you can go out there and ball. At the end of the day, if you can ball, you can ball. Regardless of the weight, I think being 240 [pounds] helps me more quicker and be more explosive.”

If Perales wants to be a special teams guy then he will need to play on the kickoff coverage team. Under the new NFL rules, the kickoff is now different and will help bigger players like Perales become assets to their teams in that area of the game.

“I love it,” Perales said about the new kickoffs. “To me, it looks like a big ole’ run play. It kind of like a pass rush, you got five yards and then you don’t move. You just stay in your lane. I like it a lot. I think it helps out my position in general, making the team.”

Overall, Perales said he not only lost some weight but he also improved as a defender. He credited a boost of confidence helped him get better in specific drills and is ready to help this team win.

“I feel like I improved in a lot of drills,” “Last year, it was almost as if I was nervous to be out here. Now I am in the mindset of ‘I am out here and there is a reason that I am out here.’ Now I just got to compete and I [help] to make this team win.”

Regardless, Perales is still on the bubble to make the team in 2024. He will have to show that he can play on special teams and that he can step into a depth pass rushing role if need be. He will have training camp and the preseason to showcase his development. If he fails to secure a roster spot, he’d be a likely candidate for the team’s practice squad.

33 • David Perales, Outside Linebacker, Fresno State
6-foot-3, 255 pounds, 25 years old, 2nd Season

Acquired: The Steelers signed Perales as a priority free agent on April 29, 2023, after the Fresno State product went undrafted in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Pittsburgh Steelers OLB David Perales

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie outside linebacker David Perales in a preseason game against the Buffalo Bills on Aug. 19, 2023. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Last seasonAs a rookie, Perales stayed with the Steelers all throughout the summer, training camp and the preseason before being elected for the practice squad. In the preseason, Perales played 100 defensive snaps and posted three tackles and two quarterback pressures.

He stayed on the practice squad until mid-October when the team released him. Two months later, he was re-signed to the practice squad after both of the Steelers starting outside linebackers, T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, entered the concussion protocol.

The Steelers released him again the day after Christmas.

CollegeThe 25-year-old started his collegiate career all of the way back in 2017 at Merced Junior College in California. As a freshman, Perales played in 11 games for Merced and recorded 64 total tackles and 14 sacks. Following the season, Perales earned All-Conference honors.

Prior to the 2018 season, Perales transferred to the FCS program, Sacramento State. In his lone season with the team, Perales appeared in 10 games and totaled 23 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks.

In 2019, Perales transferred to the Division I level of college football when he committed to Fresno State. Perales sat out the entire 2019 season due to the NCAA transfer rules and did not see the field until the 2020 season.

As a redshirt junior, Perales burst onto the scene for the Bulldogs as he earned second-team All-Mountain West honors following the season. In 2020, Perales played in all six games for Fresno State during the COVID-shortened season. He tallied 28 combined tackles, nine tackles for loss, four sacks, and a career-high four forced fumbles. His four forced fumbles ranked third in the nation and first in the Mountain West.

Perales upped his game in 2021 as he finished the season with a whooping 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks for the Bulldogs. In 13 appearances, Perales tacked on 45 total tackles and three forced fumbles.

Following the season, Perales was named to the second-team All-Mountain West for the second season in a row. Perales took advantage of the blanket waiver given by the NCAA due to COVID to return to school for a sixth collegiate season.

As a sixth-year senior, Perales played in all 14 games for the Bulldogs and totaled 47 combined tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.

His best game of the season came against San Jose State when he recorded a career-high five tackles for loss and four sacks in that single game.

Following the season, Perales earned first-team All-Mountain West honors for his stellar play. His 16 tackles for loss were the most in a season by a Bulldog since 2015. His 11.5 sacks ranked seventh in the entirety of the FBS.

In his Fresno State career, Perales racked up 23 sacks, 38 tackles for loss, and nine forced fumbles across his three seasons.

Year School GP Tackles TFLs Sacks FFs
2017 Merced Junior College 11 64 14.0
2018 Sacramento State 10 23 7.5 2.5
2019 Fresno State 0 0 0.0 0.0 0
2020 Fresno State 6 28 9.0 4.0 4
2021 Fresno State 13 45 13.5 7.0 3
2022 Fresno State 14 47 16.0 11.5 2

Salary cap and future: Perales signed a three-year free agent contract with the Steelers following the 2023 NFL Draft. He received a signing bonus of $15,000. Perales did not make the team’s active roster meaning his three-year contract was terminated.

This offseason, the Steelers signed Perales to a one-year deal worth $795,000 but none of the money is guaranteed. This means that the Steelers could cut him and save the entirety of the contract’s money.

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