PITTSBURGH — The Steelers inside linebackers are giving the team some much-needed splash. But no one is giving them more splash than veteran Kwon Alexander. Alexander has stepped up in the room as the team’s splash play guy, and it reared its head once again against the Titans. He notched the game-winning interception on rookie quarterback Will Levis, and Alexander knew it was coming the whole way.
“It was all preparation, man,” Alexander said. “I’m just being confident in what I do, reading the quarterback and knowing that the tight end was going behind me. That was all about reading the quarterback and making plays.”
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The Titans ran standard four verticals but kept no one underneath to occupy Alexander so he could sink for depth. Alexander is a veteran and saw the Levis and the Titans go into verticals mode on the play before. Rookie Darius Rush nearly called then, but Alexander picked up the slack. You can argue the Titans ended up abandoning the underneath stuff early. But once Alexander saw the tight end take a slight outside stem to curl back into the end zone in between them, he knew he had to eat grass and gain depth.
“Oh yeah, they had just run the same play,” Alexander said. “He threw it, and we just dropped it. I saw the tight end release, and I knew he was coming behind me, so I just set up under it. It’s just preparation and studying, man; it’s knowing what to do.”
Alexander noted he was ‘zoned in’ on catching the football after the Steelers had dropped multiple interceptions before that play. Of course, Elandon Roberts got in the action and excited his teammate before he would address the media. This inside linebackers room that is jelling together lost Cole Holcomb, but Roberts and Alexander vowed to hold down the fort. The theatrics for Roberts showcased their friendship.
“He’s big time,” Roberts said. “That’s an A-list player who makes A-list plays. The floor is yours.”
As a group, they will likely welcome Mark Robinson to the rotation, with Holcomb expected to miss lots of time with a potentially severe knee injury. If Kwon Alexander and Roberts can feed off one another like they have so far throughout the season, they can weather the storm and rally around Holcomb’s injury.