Steelers Carlos Davis is missing his chance at a big break

Carlos Davis #73 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Carlos Davis #73 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

While the Steelers are in general disarray after dropping their past two games, one defender is missing out on a golden opportunity.

The Steelers have not played good football through the first three weeks of the season. The offense has been incredibly weak while the defense has failed to play up to how they did in week one due to injuries. Despite the overall mediocre play, some young Steelers have had the opportunity to showcase what they can do as starters to varying degrees.

No player has stuck out as elite, but players like James Pierre, Dan Moore, and Tre Norwood have all flashed developmental ability. Meanwhile, Jamir Jones showed that he needs some more time before he can be counted on to play on the defense regularly. There is one young player that hasn’t been able to capitalize on this opportunity though.

Against the Raiders in week two, the Steelers lost nose tackle Tyson Alualu for the season. His most natural replacement, Carlos Davis, has failed to see the field since recording 17 defensive snaps in rotation during week one. Instead, Isaiah Buggs has been the first linemen off the bench and has served as a pseudo-noise tackle for the team.

The Steelers may have something in Davis

While the team could do worse than Buggs, they clearly see something in Davis. Despite being listed as the backup to Buggs all of camp, he out-snapped him in week one when he was healthy. It’s pretty easy to see why, as Davis has looked impressive in the 80 or so total snaps he has played on defense. He is an incredible athlete (he was running kicks down at one point in the offseason) and has proven to be a good run-stuffer.

A knee injury has him on the shelf, but limited participation in camp last week provides hope that he could return to the field this week. To be clear, the Steelers getting Davis back won’t turn this defense around and cause them to return to their elite week one play, but the opportunity that he has right now can’t be understated.

While Alualu was signed through next season, there was no promise that he would see the second year of that deal. At his age, retirement and regression are right around the corner despite the impressive resurgence he has had in his career. With him out, Davis could have solidified himself as a legitimate starting nose tackle candidate.

While not the most important position on defense, having a capable nose tackle is vital in stopping the run, and a starter there still sees 35-40 percent of the defensive snaps. As of now, it is hard to imagine the Steelers feeling comfortable with Davis as the starter next season, but a strong return from injury could change that. He just needs to get on the field.

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Davis has already essentially missed a game and a half as an injury replacement, and he needs to get back on the field this week if he wants to try and reclaim that role. This is a huge opportunity for the second-year defender, and if he can hold his own, he should be the favorite to start at nose tackle in 2022.