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Steelers Turn to Versatile Veteran Linebacker for Help



Steelers LB Mykal Walker
Steelers LB Mykal Walker at practice on Nov. 15, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — The Steelers have revealed how their rotation at linebacker will work out. While the group’s dept was depleted by season-ending injuries to Cole Holcomb and Kwon Alexander in the past two weeks, they have added some names to the room. Starters Elandon Roberts and Mark Robinson will naturally take the lead, but so will veteran Mykal Walker. Walker is new to Pittsburgh but not new to the league and has worn the green dot before in games while with the Atlanta Falcons.

He put up 107 tackles in Atlanta during the 2021 season. Walker never saw himself going onto a practice squad after becoming an integral part of the Falcons’ rotation. But it happened, and now he is in a spot where he can make an impact for the Steelers in the coming weeks.

“To be honest, I never thought I’d be in this situation, especially after what I did in Atlanta last year,” Walker said. “For me, I’ve been riding the roller coaster up and down waiting for my number to get called. My agent keeps me grounded. Sometimes I’m ready to just explode.”

Steelers LB Mykal Walker

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

But make no mistake, Walker has to be ready to go. In fact, inside linebackers coach Aaron Curry called Walker on Tuesday to let him know that he has to be ready for all personnel groups this week. He is willing to do anything, but first, he knows he must get down every package Pittsburgh has in their playbook.

“He said, ‘Be ready for all personnel groups,’” Walker said. “That’s something I’ve been working on since I got here anyways, but I’m just going to be ready for everything. I haven’t played in nine weeks, so I’m making sure that if my number gets called, I can play in every package we got.”

Three Linebacker Rotation

Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said on Thursday that the inside linebacker room will be a three-man rotation. Roberts, Robinson, and Walker will see the most time. The team is still learning Walker, so that complicates things, and Tariq Carpenter should be there for special teams’ help, too. But Walker will carve out a role, it’s just what role that will be.

“We have some guys,” Austin said. “We have Mark, who has been here, and then we got Mykal who has NFL experience. He has a 100-tackle season and he’s played in a lot of football games. So, I think we’ll lean on those three and try to get the most out of those three and lean on their skill sets.”

Walker, in particular, is so versatile and a solid athlete. He has some coverage upside. The Steelers do not know exactly how Walker will fit in yet, but Mike Tomlin likes the experience that Walker brings as someone with green dot and starting experience. Pittsburgh signed him for that reason.

“Mike (Mykal) Walker is a guy that played in Atlanta and had 100-plus tackles or whatever, a year ago, in the National Football League,” Tomlin said. “He’s not on our practice squad for development, to be quite honest with you. He’s on our practice squad to learn what to do and toposition and ready himself for a moment, such as what’s going to probably transpire this weekend.”

At Fresno State, he was a two-time first-team All-Mountain West selection. Playing a hybrid role off-ball and sometimes as a blitzer off the edge, Walker racked up 182 tackles in his two years with the Bulldogs. He added 22.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks as that hybrid defender up front. But Walker wants a shot to show what he can do. He played the same role in Atlanta. Now, he might have to do it in Pittsburgh.