Steven Nelson walked the halls of the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for two seasons with the Steelers back in 2019 and 2020. But the team released him in 2021 at his request, allowing him to explore options. While with the team, Nelson played well and went to Philadelphia. These past two seasons, he has started in the Texans’ secondary, and with the secondary proving to be one of the more vital parts of the Texans’ teams, Nelson is a big part of that. With Derek Stingley out, Nelson is the top cornerback on the roster.
So far this season, Nelson has not allowed a touchdown with an interception and two pass breakups to go along with an all-around solid year. He will draw George Pickens on Sunday, and the Texans have a lot of confidence that Nelson can go toe-to-toe with Pickens despite his strong start to the season.
“Since he’s been back, it’s just been – he has been, you could argue – our most consistent and steady player on defense,” Texans defensive coordinator Matt Burke said. “Just practice in and practice out, game in and game out, he is as reliable as they come for me. Like, he’s just all of those things that you talked about. He’s always in the spot he’s supposed to be in. He’s trying to play the techniques we’re asking him to play. There is just such a level of professionalism and consistency from him [Steven Nelson] that I think that’s where it shows. He’s played really well for us this year, and his performance to me is just part of his nature of who he is from a preparation and practice standpoint, because when you talk about, ‘Hey, we can’t play games like this where you’re up one game, or one good play [and] one bad play, good play.’ It’s hard to play defense like that in this league, and he has been as consistent of a player as I’ve been around in a while.”
Nelson started 30 games for the Steelers over his two seasons with the team and recorded 109 tackles, 17 passes defended, and three interceptions. He was rated as the No. 36 cornerback in the NFL in 2020 by Pro Football Focus. He’s now 30 years old, showcasing himself as still more than a viable option on the back end of a secondary. While the group is banged up with Tavierre Thomas out, Nelson, combined with Jalen Pitre and Jimmie Ward at safety, provides some challenges for Kenny Pickett to sit back and consider.
The Texans run so much zone-heavy stuff that it will be necessary for the Steelers to play disciplined and take what the Texans give them. As such, the huge explosive plays may not end up being there as much this week, but the team could move down the field if they play disciplined football.