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Steelers Sights and Sounds: Nick Herbig Shows Off Bend



Steelers Nick Herbig
Pittsburgh Steelers rookie outside linebacker Nick Herbig, Aug. 19, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — Nick Herbig and Keeanu Benton are gearing up for the Steelers regular season, and defensive line coach Karl Dunbar put both rookies and other defensive linemen to work, sharpening their bend and flexibility around the bend and tight areas.

Nick Herbig has been a guy who has dominated practices so far, no matter who he has gone up against. With or without pads, his explosiveness and bend seem to shine. Not many saw that that was coming, but Herbig proved he has some serious chops with his pass-rushing skill. So, with a new ghost move that T.J. Watt taught him, Herbig is now using that, along with his rip and dip, to terrorize offensive tackles.

Herbig’s burst stood out to me the first time I saw him. He’s light and, in run drills, could struggle but has yet to show that weakness. But he’s a specific sub-package edge rusher right now who could be a boon in specific situations this year after flashing heavily in the preseason. Watt, Alex Highsmtih, and Markus Golden are aiding in that all becoming a reality and making Herbig an outlier with his size as an edge rusher.

The Steelers want to see Benton grow as a pass rusher. In the preseason, they started playing him as a subpackage 3-technique to get him acclimated to that part of the game. Benton has some severe pass-rush potential that is not unlocked with all his athleticism. Benton’s size and strength at Wisconsin allowed him to play as the ideal run-plugging nose tackle in Jim Leonhard’s scheme. Pittsburgh runs such similar things to Wisconsin under Leonhard that it has helped Benton transition easily, even with more opportunities to pin his ears back and rush the passer.

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