For months Pittsburgh Steelers fans have fretted about a lack of proven depth at inside linebacker, wondering if the team might pursue a veteran free agent, or perhaps even re-sign Mark Barron. (The latter is definitely not happening as Barron signed with another NFL team over the weekend.)
While depth at ILB may still prove to be an issue behind starters Devin Bush and Vince Williams, options are emerging, this according to inside linebackers coach Jerry Olsavsky, himself a former tenth-round draft pick who played for the Steelers between 1989 and 1997.
Marcus Allen Now at Inside Linebacker
On Monday morning, Olsavsky had a Zoom call with media and talked about third-year man Marcus Allen making the move from safety to inside linebacker. A fifth-round draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Allen has only logged 18 snaps at safety in two years.
But he may have found a home at inside linebacker, thanks to his energy and love of hitting.
“Marcus likes hitting people so playing linebacker is no problem for him,” said Olsavsky. “He hasn’t done a lot of drills over his lifetime to play linebacker, but he is doing a fine job.”
Allen has also apparently energized the other inside linebackers.
“Bringing Marcus into my room really pumped up the room. He got the other guys excited. He got the defense excited. You see a guy and say ‘that guy can do some stuff.’ The hard thing about football is running into people and Marcus has no problem doing that so I have no problem coaching him.”
Better yet, Olsavsky thinks Allen is about to come into his own as a player, much like he did after a few years in the NFL.
“I remember when I got in the league, they say it takes a couple of years for a player to develop,” concluded Olsavsky. “Hopefully that is what we are seeing right now. We’re going to see Marcus in his third year develop into a professional.”
Jerry Olsavsky on Ulysees Gilbert III
Olsavsky was also asked about second-year ILB Ulysees Gilbert III, and whether Gilbert might be capable of playing this year. His answer was “yes,” but he added a caveat, saying Gilbert “has a long way to go just in general because of last year, but I like his trajectory.”
Olsavsky is referring to the fact that Gilbert missed the second half of his rookie season because of what we now know was a fractured L-5 vertebra in his lower back. Apparently, it’s an injury that bothered Gilbert “on and off since college,” but was causing him chronic pain in his hip area and lower back through the first seven games of the 2019 regular season. After the pain worsened considerably during the November 3rd home game vs. the Indianapolis Colts team doctors decided to shut him down for the year.
Steelers Waive Dax Raymond with Injury Settlement
In other news, the Steelers made a housekeeping move on Sunday, waiving tight end Dax Raymond with an injury settlement.
The Steelers signed Raymond—a former college teammate of Green Bay Packers first-round pick Jordan Love—to a contract in mid-July, but waived him injured to make room on the roster for tight end Kyle Markway.
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