Steelers training camp is underway. For the next several weeks, fans will be glued to their smartphones and computer screens in an effort to stay up to date on everything that is happening at camp. After all of the changes made during the offseason, there is plenty of reason to be excited about the upcoming 2023 season.
In addition to all of the new faces added in free agency and the NFL Draft, the Steelers will get a closer look at some young, talented players who hardly saw the field in 2022. But before we can be too confident about this team in the upcoming season, there are plenty of things we need to see first. Here are the five biggest questions that must be answered at Steelers training camp.
5. Where does DeMarvin Leal fit on the defensive line?
DeMarvin Leal spent a good portion of his rookie season on IR with a knee injury. This was a setback for the 21-year-old who had a strong preseason last year. Even when healthy, however, it's hard to figure out exactly where Leal fits in the defensive line rotation.
This was a question that I had dating back to the moment the Steelers selected him. While I loved the value of the selection and was on board with taking the Texas A&M product in the third round, his fit on Pittsburgh's DL was questionable from the gate.
Last year, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin tried him as an edge defender on early downs. This might have been more out of necessity than anything else with T.J. Watt's injury, but for a guy who runs a 5.0 40-yard dash, this just isn't going to work. Now the question becomes: where will Pittsburgh plug him in this year?
Leal might not be incredibly stout against the run, but he has put on weight since entering the NFL, and he does have the length to hold up as a base 3-4 end. However, I believe his best role is still going to be as a sub-package interior rusher -- perhaps a 3-technique who can shoot gaps with his quickness and bend in an effort to get after the quarterback. I'll be very interested to see what the plan is for him this year and how big his role will be on defense.