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Rash of Injuries Revealed Surprising DB Depth for Steelers



Pittsburgh Steelers CB James Pierre

PITTSBURGH — The Steelers’ young group of unheralded defensive backs were able to put up a performance of a lifetime to shut down Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. Led by a lone veteran Terrell Edmunds, Josh Jackson, Tre Norwood, James Pierre, Elijah Riley, and Quincy Wilson stepped into new roles to shut down the Buccaneers and lead Pittsburgh to a win.

It was a performance that Mike Tomlin was appreciative of a fantastic week of work for the players, some of whom were on the practice squad the week before. Norwood earned praise as a ‘unique communicator’, but the rest of the players now give the Steelers some comfortable cornerback depth that they were missing.

“I think their individual and collective efforts are an asset to them and us moving forward,” Tomlin said. “We’ll make week-to-week decisions on who we utilize based on the people that are available to us and the matchup component and what gives us the best chance to win. It’s great to have viable guys, it’s great for guys to prove that they’re viable. We’ll see where that leads us.”

Wilson, in particular, earned a heavier share of the snaps than he may have anticipated heading into the action. He often felt early in his career that he was not prepared for his chance to play. Now, as an older veteran, Wilson is comfortable with the Steelers’ secondary. All in all, Wilson played 11 key snaps for the Steelers in a rotation with Josh Jackson.

“Man, I was already up to speed because I’ve been here three weeks now,” Wilson said. “The preparation I’ve been doing, I have been preparing like I would play just to get back into the groove of things. I’ve been in this position before and not ready. Now, I’m an older guy, and I wasn’t going to let this one pass me up.”

Then, there was Jackson himself. This was the second week in a row that Jackson got elevated to the active roster. The former second-round pick for Green Bay had been disappointing, but he stepped in and played 82 percent of the snaps against the Buccaneers. It was an opportunity of a lifetime for Jackson to step up and make a name for himself. Now entrenched on the 53-man roster, Jackson has an opportunity to continue making things happen.

“Going out there, I just knew I had to be able to step in,” Jackson said. “You know, I had to accept the role. Everyone, all week, was so encouraging. That helps. I think I proved that I can play. I want to do what I can to help the team. If I’m called on again, I’m ready.”

Pierre may have been the most impressive. On 8 targets, he only allowed 3 receptions for 23 yards with two pass breakups. The entire unit rallied together to make something happen that not many thought would be possible. Now, the Steelers sit at 2-4 as they try to dig themselves out of a hole.

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