Mike Tomlin gives an invigorating update regarding a pivotal Steelers starter

The latest update regarding a key Steelers defender inspires hope; Here's what it could mean for the 2024 season.
Steelers, Cole Holcomb
Steelers, Cole Holcomb / Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to need all hands on deck in 2024 to avoid going an eighth straight year without a playoff win. That includes starters who weren't able to make it all the way through the 2023 season.

The Steelers suffered some unfortunate injuries to some of their best players last year. Cameron Heyward missed nearly the first half of the season with a groin injury, while Pat Freiermuth and Minkah Fitzpatrick missed a significant amount of time with hamstring injuries.

Recently, Mike Tomlin shared some excellent news with the media following a Steelers minicamp practice. According to Alan Saunders of Steelers Now, linebacker Cole Holcomb has been getting 'good reviews from the medical team' and is 'on track to participate in training camp'.

This is extremely encouraging. Holcomb suffered a gruesome knee injury halfway through the 2023 season. After watching his knee buckle inside out, the extent of his injury was never specified, and many fans speculated that there could be nerve damage -- causing the injury to be career-ending.

That won't be the case. Even optimistic members of the Steelers media believed that Holcomb would be forced to begin his 2024 campaign on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

Predicting the Steelers' plan for Cole Holcomb in 2024

Assuming Tomlin's claims are true and that Cole Holcomb will be ready to participate at Steelers training camp, Holcomb plans to be a big part of the defense again in 2024. Prior to his injury in Week 9, the veteran linebacker started all 8 games he appeared in while recording 54 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss, 2 QB hits, 2 passes defended, and 2 forced fumbles in less than half a season.

However, Mike Tomlin and Teryl Austin are going to take Holcomb's injury history into account when determining what his new role on the team will look like.

In 2020, Holcomb missed five games with injuries. After being one of the most productive linebackers in the NFL in 2021, Holcomb played just 7 games for the Commanders in 2022 before suffering a foot injury. He missed the rest of the season.

Holcomb has started 56 of the 58 games he has dressed for. Unfortunately, the athletic linebacker has missed 25 games in his first five seasons due to injury.

We can't reasonably expect Holcomb to return to a full-time role -- especially with Pro Bowler Patrick Queen and rookie Payton Wilson added to the roster. It's most likely that he will serve in a heavy rotation at linebacker with Queen, Wilson, and Elandon Roberts (with Queen seeing the most snaps as the three-down linebacker).

This isn't a bad thing for Holcomb or the team. Playing fewer snaps will result in a fresher healthier player on the field who can take advantage of every opportunity. The Steelers are suddenly loaded with depth at off-ball linebacker, and we can be thankful for the good news regarding Cole Holcomb's status.