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Steelers Special Teams Ace Miles Killebrew Could Take on Bigger Role

Pittsburgh Steelers special teams ace Miles Killebrew could take on an even bigger role this season with the new kickoff rules.



Mike Tomlin Steelers
Steelers safety Miles Killebrew and head coach Mike Tomlin against the Ravens, Oct. 8, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the best teamers in the NFL in Miles Killebrew. And while it goes under the radar, Pittsburgh re-signing safety Miles Killebrew to a two-year, $6.5 million contract to retain him remains an important move. The Steelers special teams captain, Killebrew primarily plays on all coverage and block units, helping fortify their special teams. Killebrew was named a First-Team All-Pro this season for the first time in his entire career.

Killebrew blocked a punt and partially blocked another this past season. He recorded 13 special teams tackles on the season. Since 2020, no one has more blocked punts in the NFL than Killebrew.

He had a game-changing blocked punt that resulted in a safety in the Steelers’ Week 5 win over the Baltimore Ravens. Killebrew also had a partially blocked punt against the New England Patriots in Week 14. Killebrew has four blocked punts since joining the team in 2021, which is tied for the most among all teams, not just players, since that time.

But it is more than just that. Killebrew’s body type, as a box safety who can deconstruct blocks, remains one of the most important archetypes under the new kickoff rules. Coverage units and kickoff return units will overhaul their body type selection to emphasize that type of block deconstruction, making someone like Killebrew even more valuable than he already was as a top special teamer.

“Well, he did, you know, obviously I drafted Miles, and so, I wanted him here because I know he is a valuable guy in the locker room,” defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said this past season. “I know he’s a valuable guy as a backup safety, a box safety type, and then special teams.”

Killebrew’s first Pro Bowl and All-Pro nod brought great emotion to the Southern Utah alumni. He was drafted in 2016 by the Lions, and only now is earning this honor. Earlier in the season, he stood tall after a tough game against the Cardinals where he was penalized three times, but he bounced back to prove why he was one of the best in the NFL.

“I wouldn’t have made it to college without special teams,” Killebrew said. “My coach told me he never seen someone put kickoff for their first 10 plays on their highlight film. He was like ‘we got to have you here’. I’ve always enjoyed it. I’ve always taken a lot of pride in. It’s something I’ve always known I could be good at.”

He will stay with the team for the next two seasons. The Steelers will gain some depth at safety and a key player who will be integral to their special teams units moving forward, with lots of change coming to that group. And with the signings like Killebrew and Coradarrelle Patterson, it seems the Steelers are ready for the new special teams rules.