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Steelers All 90: Breiden Fehoko Takes Pride in Being Throwback Run-Stopper

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Steelers DT Breiden Fehoko at Steelers minicamp

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed former Los Angeles Chargers defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko to a one-year contract to try to beef up the team’s run defense that struggled at times with production and depth over the past few seasons. This move came after the Steelers decided to move on from defensive lineman Chris Wormley and Tyson Alualu following the 2022 season.

The Steelers ranked near the top half of rush defense a season ago but still can improve with a player like Fehoko as the 26-year-old is primairly a run stopper and according to himself, an “elite” one at that.

“Just griddy, rugged, elite run stopper,” said Fehoko about what he brings to the Steelers. “I am one of those guys, I like to take pride in playing the run.”

Fehoko recorded zero sacks in his first three seasons as he played at the nose primairly in Los Angeles. In his 418 career defensive snaps in the NFL, Fehoko has lined up in the A-gap for 236 snaps and in the B-gap for 166 snaps, meaning he is the type of player to be in the middle of a defensive line.

While the pass rushers are the premium players on the defensive side of the ball, Fehoko is not focused on the money but rather the production on the field as a defensive tackle.

“It’s a pass-happy league, that’s where the big guys get paid. If you’re not getting sacks, you’re not getting the bags,” said Fehoko. “It’s a misconception about the run game. I just take a lot of pride. I love watching teams run the ball and I love watching guys who can stop the run.”

Fehoko takes so much pride in the run game, whether that is on offense or defense, that he believes the game is sometimes played wrong nowadays. Another party that loves playing the run game, offensively and defensively is the Steelers, so it is a match made in heaven. Fehoko’s mother shared a picture of the young Breiden Fehoko in a Steelers jersey many years ago.

“I feel like football should be played a certain way,” explained Fehoko. “In this day and age of ball, it gets too pretty sometimes, it gets too fancy and one that isn’t going to change is running and tackling and blocking. That is what I feel like I am going to bring and that is what I take a lot of pride in.”

The 6-foot-3 nose tackle will compete with Montravius Adams and rookie Keeanu Benton for the starting position in the middle of the Steelers defensive line. The Steelers’ run defense jumped from worst group in 2021 to to the ninth-best group last season and if they want to continue to improve, then Fehoko will need to step up in a big way.

96 • Breiden Fehoko, Defensive Tackle, LSU
6-foot-3, 300 pounds, 26 years old, 4th Season

Acquired: The Steelers signed Fehoko to a one-year, contract on March 30, 2023 after his contract with the Los Angeles Chargers expired.

Last seasonFehoko made the Chargers 2022 roster out of training camp but was later waived and re-signed to the team’s practice squad on Sept. 12, 2022. Fehoko was promoted to the team’s active roster on Nov. 9, 2022 and went on to play a career-high 278 defensive snaps over the course of the rest of the season. Fehoko also played 36 snaps on special teams during the 2022 season.

Fehoko finished the 2022 season with 12 tackles, 10 defensive stops, and one quarterback pressure.

Steelers NT Breiden Fehoko

Los Angeles Chargers defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko (96) stretches before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

Career: The Los Angeles Chargers signed Fehoko as an undrafted free agent in 2020 after he won a national championship at LSU with Joe Burrow and many other current NFL players. The Chargers later waived him on Sept. 5, 2020 but decideded to sign him to the team’s practice squad the next day.

The Chargers elevated Fehoko to the active roster for the team’s Week 13 and Week 14 games but placed him back on the practice squad after each game. The defensive tackle totaled two quarterback pressures in his two rookie season games. Fehoko signed a reserve/future contract with the Chargers on Jan. 5, 2021.

On Aug. 31, 2021, the Chargers waived Fehoko before signing him to the practice squad a day later. Fehoko recorded 13 tackles and 10 defensive stops in 2021.

Fehoko made the Chargers’ inital 53-man roster for the 2022 season but was waived in early September and placed on the practice squad once again. In November of last season, the Chargers promoted him to the team’s active roster where he stayed for the remainder of the season while playing a career-high in defensive snaps.

Fehoko appeared in 19 career games for the Los Angeles Chargers over the course of his first three seasons in the NFL. In his career, Fehoko started four games and recorded 36 tackles and one tackle for loss.

Fehoko is the cousin of Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Simi Fehoko.

Year GP Tackles TFL Sacks PFF Rating
2020 2 0 0 0 51.6
2021 8 13 0 0 51.1
2022 9 23 1 0 47.1

CollegeFehoko committed to Texas Tech out of high school and arrived as a freshman in 2015. As a freshman, Fehoko started in all 13 games for the Red Raiders as he recorded four tackles for loss, a sack, and an interception. His first colliegate tackle was against former UTEP and current Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones. Fehoko earned All-Big 12 Honorable Mentions in the coaches poll after his freshman season.

His sophomore season at Texas Tech, Fehoko started in all 12 games and was at the top of the depth chart at the defensive tackle position. Fehoko recorded 19 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack in his second season of college.

Fehoko started in all 25 games of his Red Raider career before transferring to Louisiana State University for the 2017 season. Due to NCAA rules at the time, Fehoko was required to sit out the entire 2017 season.

In 2018, Fehoko played and started in eight games in his first eligable season for the Tigers. He missed the final four games of the season due to injury but finished with 16 tackles and three for a loss while recording one sack.

In 2019, Fehoko played in 15 games for LSU while starting in four of those. He finished the season with 17 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and a half of a sack. Fehoko gained national attention with his pregame “Haka” dance that he would preform with his father and family. Fehoko won the 2020 National Championship with the Tigers.

Year GP Tackles TFLs Sacks
2015 10 19 4.0 1.0
2016 10 19 3.5 1.0
2017 0 0 0 0
2018 8 16 3.0 1.5
2019 8 17 5.0 0.5

Salary cap and future: Fehoko is signed to a one-year, $940,000 contract that is fully guranteed and does not include any roster bonuses. Fehoko will become a free agent after the 2023 season.

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