PITTSBURGH — Markus Golden came into the NFL in 2015 and has seen a lot of success throughout his career. That includes seasons of 12.5, 11, and 10 sacks throughout his career. In other words, Golden is not just some scrub the Steelers signed off the street. He’s a legitimately proven veteran pass rusher who has shown an ability to make plays. None of that changed this year, either. In limited snaps, Golden registered four sacks off the bench. But Monday against the Bills is far different.
This time, Golden will be getting the start opposite of Alex Highsmith. The unit lost their best player, Watt, to friendly fire, forcing him out with a grade 2 MCL sprain. While there’s no way to replace Watt, Golden, and Herbig can help mitigate the loss in a way that no other duo previously could.
“Your best player on your team, you want to be able to take him out there,” Golden said. “You hate to see T.J. go down. I’d rather have him out there because I know we can win with him. But I know he’d want me to go out there and go hard. He’s helping me already this week. I’ll go out there and play hard.”
Golden, Herbig, and Highsmith have preached the same message — keep hunting. The Steelers have dealt with injuries elsewhere to Minkah Fitzpatrick and multiple linebackers going down. As Mike Tomlin noted, this is the type of ‘off the couch’ guys they have employed. But Herbig and Golden are not in the same vein as Myles Jack and Eric Rowe.
While those are both veterans, these guys have been in the program since the summer and know what is going on more than anyone else in the room. And against Josh Allen and the Bills, Golden needs to make his impact felt. He did that against the Ravens in limited snaps, posting three pressures and a sack.
“Every week I go hard, and I make sure I’m prepared no matter what is happening,” Golden said. “This is my first year being a backup, so I’m not used to sitting back. I’m always going. I’m always preparing myself like I’m the starter. I’m a self-starter. I know I have to be ready no matter what.”
If Pittsburgh wants to knock off the Bills, Allen and the running game must be held at bay. More than that, the passing game can not go off and destroy the Pittsburgh secondary, even if they return many players out. It’s up to the front, especially the edge rushers, to make that happen.