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Steelers Won’t Add Free Agent at Inside Linebacker



Steelers LB Tariq Carpenter
Steelers linebacker Tariq Carpenter against the Packers, Nov. 12, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — The Steelers are not looking outside the organization to try and find inside linebacker help for injuries. Mike Tomlin addressed that during his press conference on Tuesday, where he gave a vote of confidence for Mykal Walker and Tariq Carpenter.

Regardless, the team will roll with Elandon Roberts, Mark Robinson, Walker, and Carpenter. That is a complex group of inside linebackers, but the team does not have many options and feels more comfortable in those posts. In regards to Walker, Tomlin outright admitted that Walker is not there to develop, but to ready himself for a role.

“He’s not on our practice squad for development,” Tomlin said. “He’s there to ready himself for a moment like what could transpire this weekend.”

Walker might fit into the role the Steelers want for a few reasons. He can play MACK and BUCK linebacker roles, which project as the MIKE and WILL linebacker equivalents. He has played all three linebacker spots in a 4-3 and can even blitz off the edge. But his coverage upside is something that sticks out as an intriguing possibility. In general, Walker is athletic, too, and that’s always a plus when trying to replace an athletic linebacker like Alexander. He’s always had the mentality that he will be ready.

Steelers LB Mykal Walker

Steelers LB Mykal Walker at practice on Oct. 31, 2023 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Carpenter, on the other hand, has a different journey than Walker. Walker stood out at Fresno State, but Carpenter is a converted safety to linebacker. That offers him some unique coverage upside, too, and he is among the more athletic players on the bottom of the roster. Carpenter has some serious juice and will lay the wood. He expects to come up for the game, too. While both may not come up despite expecting it, Carpenter is generally newer to the linebacker position.

Steelers Won’t Add Outside Help

With that in mind, the Steelers seem content to see what they have in their inside linebackers. There could be intriguing options out there, like Rashaan Evans, but Walker is about as good of an option as they will find. Carpenter is there for special teams purposes. As a result, those two guys will see the chances rather than someone from the outside, at least for now.

“We’re not looking outside the organization for solutions regarding those issues,” Tomlin said. “We got guys that we are comfortable with, and we have been forward-thinking, to be quite honest with you in the acquisition of some of our people. Some of our practice squad guys are there not because they are developmental players but they are capable players that are readying themselves for that opportunity.”

With Alexander out early in the game against the Packers, Elandon Roberts stepped up as the team’s green dot communicator for the defense, and Mark Robinson stepped into a starting role. Mike Tomlin refuses to make excuses for anything.

“Injuries are a part of the game,” Tomlin said. “They’re as much a part of the game as blocking and tackling. I’ve learned over the years not to worry about those that are not available to me, but to focus my energies on those that are available to me to make sure that they are ready and prepared and focused.”

It now seems that type of mentality will continue into the coming week. Walker and Carpenter will get ready to go and play. But the Steelers’ defense does not expect them to suddenly struggle. Instead, they are going to through the guys who have been here and know what the atmosphere is like.