Steelers shift from ‘luxury’ to ‘traditional’ at inside linebacker

With Cole Holcomb sidelined for the remainder of the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers are forced to move forward without a key part of their interior defense.

After being brought in on a three-year deal, Holcomb emerged as the team’s top inside linebacker, having recorded 59 tackles, two pass breakups, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

The Steelers’ next man up is Kwon Alexander, whom the team said will also get the green dot, but the luxury of three starting-caliber inside guys is no longer available to them.

“It was somewhat of a luxury,” Mike Tomlin said of having three linebackers. “We thought we had three really capable linebackers dividing the labor up between two positions. That’s a really good thing when you have an opportunity to do that. You really can specialize and allow guys week in and week out to do the things that they do best. They can remain fresher. So, it was a pleasure to have that collective talking about Cole, Elandon and Kwon.

“Now we simply got two guys for two, spots, and so it’s more of a traditional rotation. Obviously, it could create more opportunity for a guy like Mark Robinson in his second year, but he’s not going to get the type of involvement that Cole had. What we had was a luxury. What we have now is probably more of a traditional division of labor at the inside linebacker position.

Tomlin is confident that Alexander and Elandon Roberts are fully capable of doing the job.

“We had a luxury when we had all three, but we’ve got two really capable guys now who are going to act in more of a traditional fashion. We don’t feel like anything’s lost in that regard.”

As for second-year man Mark Robinson, he’ll be ready if his name is called.

“We don’t get ahead of ourselves,” Robinson told Teresa Varley of “If it’s my time, it will be my time. If not, I just have to keep on doing what I am doing now and that is preparing myself.”

Surrounded by veterans, Robinson is in good hands as he grows within the defense.

“I feel good about the group of guys we’ve got,” he said. “Just preparation. That is one of the biggest things. It’s great to see how guys prepare for such a task on the weekend.”

“Those guys are like a group of brothers to me. Every day we come in here it’s the same. We keep building, and they stay on me, and I am open.”

In 12 games and two starts, Robinson has 14 tackles.

Story originally appeared on Steelers Wire