Steelers Hire Ex-Ravens Assistant After Heyward, Highsmith Lose ‘Dr. Rush’ to Rival

Alex Highsmith Steelers

Grant Halverson/Getty Images Alex Highsmith of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after a tackle against the Carolina Panthers on December 18, 2022.

On Monday the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that they have hired former Baltimore Ravens assistant Jason Brooks to serve as defensive quality control coach.

The move comes less than two weeks after the Ravens hired Chuck Smith to be Baltimore’s new outside linebackers coach. Said addition was especially notable because according to Alan Saunders of Steelers Now, Smith was the “personal pass rush coach” of several Steelers standouts.

Smith — who is sometimes referred to as ‘Dr. Rush’ — “worked extensively with Steelers players in the offseason on improving their pass-rush moves and repertoires, specifically with Cam Heyward and Alex Highsmith,” noted Saunders. For his part, Highsmith is coming off a breakout year in which he recorded 14.5 sacks, bringing his career total to 22.5.

While the Brooks hire probably wasn’t a tit-for-tat move on the part of the Steelers, Brooks has spent a total of six years with the Ravens, serving as a football analyst last season and assistant defensive line/quality control coach in 2021. Earlier in his career he worked for the Ravens as an offensive quality coach and offensive assistant (2009-12).

In between, Brooks — a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University — served as defensive line coach for both Charleston Southern University and Colby College. He also spent four years coaching defensive backs and special teams at Florida International University, and has worked as the wide receivers coach at Norwich University.

Like many others in the Steelers organization, Brooks has NFL bloodlines. His late father, Clarence Brooks, was a defensive line coach in the NFL for 24 years, working for the Dolphins, Browns, Bears and Ravens. He was part of the coaching staff that helped Baltimore win Super Bowl XLVII.

Steelers Promote Denzel Martin to OLBs Coach

Also on Monday, the Steelers announced that they have promoted Denzel Martin from assistant outside linebackers coach to linebackers coach. Martin has been a part of Pittsburgh’s organization for eight years, beginning his career as a scouting assistant (2016-17) before transitioning to coaching assistant (2018-19).

In 2015, Martin was a recruiting graduate assistant at Missouri, where he was a linebacker from 2010-14. However, he saw game action just once during his college career, recording a single tackle against South Dakota State in Aug. 2014.

Dolphins Sign Malik Reed, Cardinals Re-Sign Kelvin Beachum

In other news, on March 20 the Miami Dolphins formally announced the signing of ex-Steelers linebacker Malik Reed. Days earlier, it had been reported that the Dolphins had agreed to terms with Reed on a one-year contract that reunites him with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

Meanwhile, former Steelers offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum re-upped with the Arizona Cardinals on a new two-year contract worth $5.15 million, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

Beachum, 33, is entering his 12th season in the NFL and has to be considered one of the biggest bargains in the league. He’s coming off a two-year, $4 million contract with the Cardinals and started a total of 32 games for Arizona during those two seasons. His Pro Football Focus grades haven’t been shabby, either. In 2022, he earned a 70.6 overall grade, largely on the strength of a 76.4 pass blocking grade.

Beachum spent the first four years of his career with the Steelers after Pittsburgh drafted him in the 7th round in 2012 out of SMU.