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Teryl Austin Thinks Sky’s the Limit for Keeanu Benton

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Pittsburgh Steelers DT Keeanu Benton

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers believe they have a budding star in second-year nose tackle Keeanu Benton. Mike Tomlin said as much in his season-ending press conference in January.

“It’s interesting, I just had an exit interview with him,” Tomlin said. “I’m really excited about the prospects of his future. He’s really talented. I think he’s capable of being dominant sooner rather than later. And so, the question is how quickly can we make that happen and what are our roles in doing so. And so, we just had a real good conversation about what that looks like foundationally and how do we build.”

Benton looked like a stud in his rookie season, and he’s only going to get better. Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin thinks his potential is unlimited.

“Keeanu is big and athletic and strong, the sky’s the limit for that guy,” Austin said at minicamp on Wednesday. “I think the world of him right now. He’s got a lot of room for growth. He’s going to get a lot of pointers from a guy who is really good in Cam [Heyward]. I just expect him really to take a jump and be a dominant player inside.”

Pittsburgh Steelers DT Keeanu Benton

Pittsburgh Steelers DT Keeanu Benton at the team’s OTAs, May 28, 2024 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PFF named Benton to their All-Breakout Team.

“Benton was inconsistent in run defense last year but still recorded six PFF-run-defense game grades above 70.0. He should be able to improve on that in his second NFL season. He was a useful pass-rusher, too, notching an 8.5% pressure rate,” Gordon McGuinness of PFF wrote.

Executive Director of the Senior Bowl Jim Nagy also thinks Steelers nose tackle Keeanu Benton will be a star for years to come.

“You’ll be hearing plenty in years to come about Steelers NT Keeanu Benton. Pretty good company for a rookie,” Nagy wrote on X in regards to Benton’s Pro Football Focus run and pass rush grades.

At OTAs last month, Benton said that he welcomes the high expectations heading into Year 2. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I expect it out of myself as well,” Benton said. “You can’t stay the same and expect to succeed in this league. That’s a point that Coach [Tomlin] stressed.”

Nick Farabaugh contributed reporting from Pittsburgh.