Steelers’ Mike Tomlin Explains Starting Defender’s Demotion

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin

Nick Cammett/Getty Images Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh on September 22, 2022.

On Tuesday afternoon Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin revealed a change to the team’s starting lineup, though it’s not the quarterback switch that many fans have been hoping for. Instead, Tomlin has chosen to demote starting nose tackle Tyson Alualu in favor of Montravius Adams, who is eight years Alualu’s junior.

“He’s been playing better than Tyson,” Tomlin said. “So, we just thought that was appropriate.”


Tyson Alualu Has a 40.9 PFF Grade This Season

The move can’t really be described as a surprise, as Alualu hasn’t looked like his old self this season. In three games (two starts) this year, the 35-year-old has been credited with six tackles (three solo) and one quarterback hit, having played a total of 104 snaps on defense and 12 more on special teams.

More notably, he has earned a lowly 40.9 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, with an even worse 38.1 run defense grade. This as compared to the 59.7 overall grade he earned in the early part of last year before he suffered a season-ending broken ankle in Week 2. Those numbers are way down from the 89.6 grade he earned in his last full season (2020), when he was still considered one of the Top 32 interior defensive linemen in the NFL.

All that said, it seems that Alualu is in the final year of a career that has spanned 11 seasons and began in 2012, when the Jacksonville Jaguars made him the No. 10 overall pick in the draft out of Cal. He spent the first five years of his career with the Jaguars before signing with the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent in 2017.

After his first Steelers contract expired in 2021, he chose to re-join the Jaguars on a two-year deal worth a total of $6 million, even after the Steelers made it a priority to try to retain him. But a bout with COVID-19 delayed a trip to Jacksonville for his contract signing, and in the intervening weeks he had a change of heart and reversed his decision to leave Pittsburgh – a decision that pleased many of his Steelers teammates.

Now, Alualu is in the final year of a two-year deal he signed in 2021, a contract that is paying him $2.5 million in salary, and one that counts $3.462 million against the salary cap, as per overthecap.com.

Thus far in his career, Alualu has appeared in 177 regular-season games (113 starts). He has been credited with 409 tackles (257 solo), including 46 tackles for loss, 24.5 sacks, 69 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries, as per Pro Football Reference.


Montravius Adams Joined the Steelers in Nov. 2021

As for Montravis Adams, the former Green Bay Packers third-round pick (2017) has some experience as a starter for the Steelers, having made four starts last season after Pittsburgh signed him off the practice squad of the New Orleans Saints. In five total appearances last season, Adams — 6-foot-3 and 304 pounds — had eight tackles (six solo), including one tackle for loss and three quarterback hits.

Thus far this season, Adams has played 31 defensive snaps in three games and has been credited with two tackles and one pass defensed.

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