PITTSBURGH — Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is in a tough spot. The team has lost its top three inside linebackers and still will have to trot out there on Thursday and expect a solid performance. But he is not making excuses for the performance of the group.
For Austin and the Steelers, he wants to see guys like Blake Martinez, Mykal Walker, and Myles Jack step up. But more than that, he has no qualms about his job expectations and how to meet those head-on.
“That’s my job,” Austin said. “My job is to have those contingencies ready and that’s what we’ll work towards this week. So we’ll go out there and gets those guys up to speed.”
The emphasis gets placed on veterans like Mykal Walker, Blake Martinez, and Myles Jack. Mike Tomlin said on Monday that would be the direction they would move.
“Guys like Blake Martinez, Myles Jack who are in our program and having the ability to call upon some guys with NFL playing experience, but not only playing experience, but huddle with communication experience. We lost our defensive quarterback when Elandon went down with the injury,” Tomlin said. “Coupled with the fact that we had previously lost Cole and Kwon in previous weeks really put a strain on us at that position in playmaking and communication.”
Meanwhile, it could be easy for Austin to duck that responsibilities and at least not care nearly as much as he would otherwise. But that’s far from the case for Austin. Instead, when asked if the injuries to that room meant more than usual, he dodged it and took accountability straight for himself.”
“Well, I can’t recall specifically, but I’m sure this has happened around the league,” Austin said. “Really nobody gives a shit. You’ve got to get it done.”
Martinez was recently un-retired after retiring last November, and he joined the Panthers’ practice squad after a tryout on November 6th. Martinez has played all over the NFL, but he spent his most productive years in New York with the Giants and in Green Bay with the Packers. He is a hammer to the nail, similar to Roberts stylistically.
Roberts is a fantastic processor who is better than I think anyone realized. Even in coverage, he competes. I think he can do that a lot better than people think. But he highlights what Walker can not do well and allows him to show out, so his injury is massive.
“When you lose a guy like that, it’s a big loss,” Walker said. “We know what he brings, but you just have to be the nest man up. You know, communication wasn’t as good as it could have been. I put that on me.”
Austin has to get everyone up to speed now with Roberts likely out with a groin injury that will hamper him. The Patriots offense does not put fear in many defenses, but they need to be prepared for what is to come.