Tyson Alualu is dominating this season at age 33.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are building a team that is more reminiscent of the teams who have brought six championships to this franchise, as Benny Snell and James Conner have revitalized the running game at the same time Devin Bush and Minkah Fitzpatrick are leading a turnaround on defense. A complete afterthought coming into the season, defensive tackle Tyson Alualu has emerged as a legitimate star throughout the first two weeks of the season.
Through the first two weeks of the season, Alualu, who has nine tackles and a sack through two games, is leading all interior defensive linemen in pressure rate so far this season. With Cam Heyward also on the same defensive line, Pittsburgh’s defense is bordering on an elite level of play to start the season.
Tyson Alualu has been critical to Pittsburgh’s defense this year
Alualu was picked in the first round, tenth overall, of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, but his career never took off during his seven years in Duval County. He started regularly but was usually just a space-eating run-stuffer. After vacillating in and out of the starting lineup during his first three seasons as a Steeler, Alualu has finally unlocked his vast reservoir of talent.
Alualu himself cites this upturn in production to his teammates on the defensive line, saying that he is afforded more 1-on-1 opportunities because teams are focusing on trying to stop Heyward and Stephon Tuitt. If he keeps getting to the quarterback at this rate, the offensive gameplan better include stopping him.
While the Giants and Jeff Driskel-led Broncos aren’t exactly the Walsh 49ers on offense, Alualu’s journey from draft bust to quality started to backup to elite interior pass rusher has been a treat to watch, and he’s helped Pittsburgh establish themselves as contenders in the AFC North.