3 dark horse candidates for sizable roles on the Steelers in 2022

Dallas Cowboys free safety Damontae Kazee (18). Mandatory Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports
Dallas Cowboys free safety Damontae Kazee (18). Mandatory Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports /
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It’s not hard to predict the high-impact players for the Steelers in 2022, but these three underdogs could prove to play sizable roles this season.

Every year, it seems like there are always a few players who earn a bigger role and are more important to the team than anyone could have expected. In 2021, Tre Norwood was one of those players. Despite being the 245th overall pick in the seventh round, Norwood stepped onto the field for the Steelers as a rookie and chipped in 388 defensive snaps that included a couple of key third and fourth down stops.

This year, there are a few players who could make a similar (and perhaps even bigger) impact. Here are three dark horse candidates who could carve out sizable roles for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2022:

Steelers EDGE Derrek Tuszka

Prior to forcing his way out the door, Melvin Ingram played a significant role for the Steelers as the team’s third edge defender. Unfortunately, the former Pro Bowler made it clear that he wasn’t willing to take a backseat to Alex Highsmith in the pecking order.

I would have thought that the Steelers would have made more of an effort to improve the depth of the edge defender position — either through the NFL Draft or free agency. As it stands, however, no key additions have been made, and it looks like Pittsburgh might be comfortable going into the season with Derrek Tuszka as the first man off the bench.

Tuszka played well down the stretch for the Steelers in his first significant NFL action last season — earning 247 defensive snaps. Of his usage, 84 percent of Tuszka’s defensive snaps came in the second half of the season when he earned 2.0 sacks and 2 QB hits late in the year, via Pro Football Reference. If no other additions are made, Tuszka could have an important role in 2022.