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Steelers Have Clear Role Defined for DeShon Elliott

The Pittsburgh Steelers have traits they like in DeShon Elliott and feel like they can maximize his skill set completely next to Minkah Fitzpatrick.

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Pittsburgh Steelers SS DeShon Elliott
Pittsburgh Steelers safety DeShon Elliott during OTAs at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on May 23, 2024. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — Minkah Fitzpatrick wants to get back to playing more ‘Minkah Ball’ this season. But to do that, the Steelers made multiple moves that would eat into what Fitzpatrick did a season ago. But no one exemplifies that more than Deshon Elliott, who comes over from the Miami Dolphins and plays the Steelers while with the Baltimore Ravens. Steelers defensive coordinator not only explained why the team signed Elliott to a deal, but hinted at the role he might have.

“One thing I like is that he knows what AFC North football is about, you know, starting in Baltimore. So, we figured he knew that. He’s also a real good pro. He’s tough. He’s a good striker, you know. He brings some toughness in that secondary, where he’s going to get down in there, he can punish some ball carriers. And so, I think that gives us a level of physicality that we really want and like, and he does some things in the slot as well. So, he brings us some flexibility in there, and that’s what we like,” Austin said.

Elliott has tone-setting tendencies, but the second half of Austin’s statement paints the picture for Elliott. My guess? Elliott could have a clear role as the run-down slot and be used heavily in blitz packages. On top of that, he should play most of those box snaps that put more stress on the body. Fitzpatrick played down there almost a quarter of the time in 2023, far higher than the rest of his career in Pittsburgh.

Deshon Elliott speaks at a press conference about his contract signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, Friday, March 15, 2024 in Pittsburgh, PA. (Abigail Dean / Pittsburgh Steelers)

“We have familiarity with DeShon and just got a lot of respect for how he plays the game, the toughness component,” Mike Tomlin said. “We felt like he would be a good asset in addition to our secondary. Good tackler, good communicator. There’s a lot that’s attractive about him and we’re excited to get to work with him.”

His role should be similar to that of Fitzpatrick a year ago, while Damontae Kazee figures to take on more of Keanu Neal’s role. Injuries or not, Austin felt a bit hamstrung by his safety play a year ago, which lacked instincts and juice. Adding Patrick Queen and Donte Jackson to up the speed across the secondary should help, too.

And while Elliott will not be confused for a burner, he has more athleticism than Neal or Kazee at this stage in his career. Elliott is a smart, solid football player that can allow the Steelers to get Fitzpatrick back to doing what he does best, and that is the primary role for him.