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Steelers LB Leads NFL in Key Defensive Stat



Steelers LB Elandon Roberts
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Elandon Roberts in a preseason game against the Buffalo Bills, Aug. 19, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Steelers’ inside linebackers are becoming one of the better stories of the season for the team as they have retooled the position, and it seems to have worked. Kwon Alexander and Cole Holcomb have played the most snaps, converting their all-around success into fruitful play at the second level. But Elandon Roberts is the hammer to that room, and he has played well in that role.

Pittsburgh wanted to bring in Roberts as a supplement in run defense while keeping him out of obvious passing-down situations. So far, that is what they have done, and Roberts is filling in at a high level. Roberts leads the NFL in run stop percentage at 18.3%, according to Pro Football Focus. Given the fact that he plays the majority of his snaps on run-downs and has proven to become a potent blitzer, that is the exact sign Pittsburgh wanted to see. With Derrick Henry and the 12 personnel-heavy Titans coming up, Roberts can become a crucial cog in the Thursday Night Football matchup, too. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin even said as much.

Yeah, I think anytime we play big people teams and running teams, you see E (Elandon Roberts) on the field a lot more than when we’re playing spread teams, and it is,” Austin said. “It’s his type of game. He’s a thumper. He loves it. It’s good for us. I love the energy he brings. You may see a lot of E (Elandon Roberts) out there this week.”

Roberts prides himself on being that thumper. He has played in New England and Miami, which is the role he filled at both spots, too. The Steelers carry a similar brand and identity to those teams, with the fabric intertwining up front. It’s not the entire same scheme, but the Steelers do accentuate Roberts’ strengths at a high level. That’s just good coaching. None of the players are being paid a considerable bank. But the trio has created a massive upgrade for the team.