Montravius Adams has technically been the starter at nose tackle the first six games of the season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but if fans had their way, he likely wouldn’t get another start.
The reason for many wanting Adams to get benched is due to the play of rookie DL Keeanu Benton. The second-round draft pick has flashed in a rotational role, showing more upside as a pass rusher than Adams has during his tenure in Pittsburgh while also proving to be a stout run defender.
Still, Adams’ former teammate Tyson Alualu commended his play in the most recent edition of the Not Just Football podcast while talking to DL Cameron Heyward about playing the nose tackle position and how Adams has really grown into that role since jumping on the moving train in Pittsburgh when he was signed off the Saints’ practice squad two years ago.
“It’s just cool to see [Adams] develop into the role he’s taking because he’s one of those guys that if he played in a 4-3, he would make a lot more plays and he’s finally getting his niche to kind of do both where certain plays he’ll be unselfish to have linebackers fill in and take a TFL, but he’s causing a lot of havoc,” Alualu said on Not Just Football, which aired on NFL on ESPN’s YouTube channel. “That’s what he does best. Penetrate and make others feed off him or other people make it right, and when you’re doing that on a defense, man, it’s fun.”
Adams has played 276 defensive snaps (63%) for the Pittsburgh Steelers, nearly matching his 2022 snap total (281) in just six games. A lot of that has to do with Heyward being on IR after injuring his groin, forcing Adams and the rest of the defensive line to take on more snaps. But it also speaks to Pittsburgh’s trust in Adams to fulfill the role as a veteran nose tackle who aggressively pursues the ball carrier while juggling the responsibility of being unselfish and eating double-team blocks to allow Pittsburgh’s linebackers to run freely to the football.
On the season, Adams has 17 total tackles, a tackle for loss, and a forced fumble. Pittsburgh’s run defense hasn’t been the greatest through six games, ranking 28th in the NFL while giving up an average of 142 rushing yards per game. But that shouldn’t speak against Adams, who has shown time and again this season the skill set to help clog up running lanes and make plays on the football while playing nose tackle.
Adams came back to Pittsburgh on a one-year deal this offseason, meaning that he could see a nice pay raise as an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Given that Benton is hopefully the long-term future at the nose tackle spot for Pittsburgh, it may be unlikely that Adams returns should he covet more money and a starting job somewhere else. Still, don’t rule out Pittsburgh trying to bring back Adams, who has developed into quite the role player for the team on the defensive line, morphing from this penetrating defensive tackle who likes to get up field to a traditional, run-stuffing nose tackle, having the skill set to do both if necessary.
You can watch the full episode here: