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DeMarvin Leal Reveals What Plagued His 2023 Season



Steelers DE Demarvin Leal

After showing promise in his rookie campaign, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end DeMarvin Leal took a step back and had a turbulent 2023 season.

Almost all of Leal’s playing time came in the first third of the season. He did not play 10 snaps in a game after Week 10. He wasn’t dressed at all for four of the team’s final five games. That’s certainly not an encouraging sign for a 2022 third-round pick, who the team had high expectations for.

So what attributed to Leal’s challenging second season? He claims it was his poor conditioning and technique, according to an interview at OTAs last week with Christopher Carter of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“Technique, just working on my technique,” Leal told Carter. “Making sure that I come back in better shape than I did last year and just making sure I’m technically sound. Feel like that’s the biggest thing coming off of this second year. Technique I feel is what was my downfall. So made sure I got with some defensive line coaches. Got together, and just came up with a plan and got to it.”

Steelers Rookie DL DeMarvin Leal

Steelers Rookie DL DeMarvin Leal. — ED THOMPSON

Leal came out of Texas A&M measuring at 6-foot-3, 283 pounds. He’s a classic “tweener” in a 3-4 defensive scheme.  In 2022, he played 1-4 snaps as an edge rusher, 20 snaps over the tackle as a 3-4 end and 43 snaps as an interior defensive lineman, according to PFF’s charting.

Former Steelers outside linebacker Arthur Moats thinks Leal has Stephon Tuitt-like traits, but he has to get better at the fundamentals.

“He reminds me of Tuitt when I’m watching,” he said on the The Arthur Moats Experience With Deke podcast earlier this month. “And I loved Tuitt. He has everything to do it, he just needs to buckle down. I’m hoping [2023] was a wake up.

“I felt personally that him switching positions as much as it was happening, his technique when he was supposed to be back as an interior d-lineman wasn’t as crisp and fundamentally sound. You’ll see him penetrate at times and see him make a play, but when you’re trying to bump back in and do what you need to do, that pad level isn’t where it needs to be, and the hand placement isn’t where it needs to be.”