Steelers quietly hit a free agency home run on defense |

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General manager Omar Khan has been busy. The Pittsburgh Steelers have revamped their inside linebacking corps and may have hit pay dirt with one addition.

Mike Tomlin’s club started slow in 2022 and looked like one of the worst teams in the league. The Pittsburgh Steelers gathered themselves, won seven of their final nine games and finished with a 9-8 record.

The defense regrouped after some early struggles. The team limited the opposition to 17 or fewer points in each of its final seven outings. However, that doesn’t mean that all was well with coordinator Teryl Austin’s unit.

Tomlin’s squad finished ninth in the NFL against the run, allowing only 108.1 yards per game on the ground. A closer look shows that the Steelers were erratic at best in this department, surrendering at least 120 yards rushing in eight of their 17 games.

Steelers defense is already much better at linebacker

There have already been big changes at inside linebacker. Former first-round draft choice Devin Bush is now a member of the Seattle Seahawks. Robert Spillane signed with the Las Vegas Raiders this offseason. Recently, the team parted ways with Myles Jack. He led the team in tackles this past season but was one year and done after signing a two-year deal last year.

Enter hard-nosed Cole Holcomb, who looks to bounce back from an injury-shortened 2022. . He missed the final 10 games of the season with the Washington Commanders and still finished fifth on the team with 69 stops.

One year earlier, the 2019 fifth-round pick from North Carolina logged an impressive 142 tackles, to go along with three takeaways and seven passes defensed. There’s also former Patriots’ and Dolphins’ linebacker Elandon Roberts, who led playoff-bound Miami with 104 stops this past season.

In recent seasons, led by standout pass-rushers such as T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith (team-high 14.5 sacks in 2022), the Steelers know how to get after opposing quarterback. The run defense has been an issue as of late, finishing last in the league in 2021. It’s an area that needs to be solidified sooner than later. Could Cole be a big factor in 2023?

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