Steelers Sign Run-Stuffing Nose Tackle

Demarcus Christmas FSU

Butch Dill/Getty Images Quarterback Malik Rosier #12 of the Miami Hurricanes tries to break free from the grasp of defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas of the Florida State Seminoles on October 7, 2017.

On Tuesday November 3rd the Pittsburgh Steelers had former Seattle Seahawks draft pick Demarcus Christmas in for a visit. On Saturday Pittsburgh announced that it has added the 2019 sixth-round pick to the team’s practice squad.

While this move is likely to be overshadowed by the cuts that were announced by the team today, not to mention the activation of recently-acquired linebacker Avery Williamson, Christmas has the potential to fill a specific role for the Steelers. That is, as a two-down nose tackle who can clog up interior running lanes and make plays in a limited area, much like he did in college at Florida State.

Christmas lasted until the sixth round in 2019 because he is fairly limited from an athletic perspective and his skill set doesn’t hold as much value as it once did. These days NFL teams prefer interior defensive lineman who can stop the run but also have strong pass rush skills—or at least strong pass rush potential—much like Steelers 2020 seventh-round pick Carlos Davis.

But Pittsburgh’s run defense was exposed by the Baltimore Ravens last week (265 rushing yards allowed), especially after Tyson Alualu went out in the first quarter with a sprained MCL. So it certainly can’t hurt to audition Christmas to see how he can help, especially with Chris Wormley still on injured reserve for at least two more games.

It’s worth noting, though, that Christmas didn’t play—at all—during his rookie season with the Seahawks due to an unspecified back injury. In fact, the Seahawks placed him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list during the preseason—and never took him off it.

Pittsburgh’s DT Situation vs. Dallas

Meanwhile, with Alualu already ruled out for Sunday, backup Isaiah Buggs is likely to get the lion’s share of the snaps at nose tackle versus the Cowboys, unless he himself isn’t well enough to play. Keep in mind that Buggs missed practice on Thursday with an ankle injury, this after being a limited participant on Wednesday.

After Buggs the Steelers also have first-year defensive tackle Henry Mondeaux (Oregon), who was recently called up from the practice squad to the active roster. Also, the aforementioned Davis could see his first game NFL game action.

The only other defensive lineman who could conceivably play on the interior in the coming weeks is rookie undrafted free agent Calvin Taylor (Kentucky), though he would have to be called up from the practice squad.

Dan McCullers Elevated by the Chicago Bears

One ex-Steelers defensive lineman the team won’t be able to call back anytime soon is former Steelers nose tackle Dan McCullers.

McCullers terminated his contract with the Steelers on September 23rd to move over to the Chicago Bears practice squad. But on Saturday he was added to Chicago’s active/inactive roster in the wake of injuries to defensive linemen Roy Robertson-Harris and John Jenkins, both of whom got hurt last weekend against the New Orleans Saints. McCullers is expected to see his first game action of 2020 on Sunday when the Bears visit Nashville to play the Tennessee Titans.

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Also Read:
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