The Steelers have safety Miles Killebrew as a starting safety on their Week 17 depth chart. While Killebrew is not expected to start against the Seahawks, that will likely go to Eric Rowe and Patrick Peterson. It indicates a growing role for him in the big nickel role.
Killebrew played 22 snaps against the Cincinnati Bengals as an extra linebacker with a big body at safety. The team has relied on him in spurts in the past this season, but Killebrew is mostly known as a special teams ace who can play in special packages when depth is depleted.
I think like last week you saw he played in some of our three–safety packages, and he can play on the edge in terms of that. He’s a good athlete,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “He can tackle in the open field just like he does on special teams, and he’s been doing that role for us since he’s been here. I think in some of those instances when we need a big guy to play on the edge, he can do that, and I think that’s why we have faith in Miles (Killebrew).”
Killebrew doesn’t get to play much on defense. But the veteran is in his eighth NFL season and has earned the special teams captainship for the Steelers. They pay him to play quality special teams, and yet, not only has he done that, he has exceeded expectations. But Pittsburgh has no qualms about his ability to play significant time without Fitzpatrick.
Killebrew is one of many players who have had to step up with injuries at linebacker and safety. His move up the depth chart, over guys like Elijah Riley and Trenton Thompson, does indicate a role for him in the defense. Riley has one, too, as a dime package defender and run-down slot cornerback. He will be one of many players the team expects to step up in Seattle.