Pittsburgh Steelers rookie defensive lineman Keeanu Benton is expected to contribute a lot this season with many expecting him to take over the starting nose tackle spot from Montravius Adams. However that is not set in stone and Benton will have to prove himself in OTAs, training camp, and in preseason games. But, early on in OTAs Benton has impressed fellow defensive lineman and captain Cameron Heyward.
Before Day Two of OTAs Heyward spoke with the media and was asked what he thought of Benton after one practice.
“Good,” Heyward told reporters on a video posted to Steelers.com. “You know, he’s got quick bursts, [is] strong. It’s just going to be a thing of getting the playbook [down] and, you know, feeling comfortable in what he’s doing.”
The Steelers have they don’t want to put too much on Benton’s plate with the plan being for Benton to begin the season at nose tackle before moving him around the defensive line later on. Benton’s priority this year will be to stop the run at the nose tackle position to make life easier for the linebackers.
Benton has shown he is capable to rushing the passer as well and will get some run doing that, according to defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Eventually Benton will likely move around the defensive line but this year is simply isn’t necessary, at least initially, with Heyward and Larry Ogunjobi returning.
Benton is clearly the future of the Steelers and has the traits to be the anchor of the defensive line years down the line. What is great for him is that he has a mentor in Heyward, who will help him throughout the way and will be great for his development considering how good of a player Heyward has been throughout his career.
For Benton, as Heyward mentioned, he will have to get the playbook down so he can fill the necessary gap he is responsible for on a given play. It likely won’t be an issue, and over the summer he will learn it. But for a player as skilled as Benton as long as he is in the right position he should be effective.