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‘I Know How Football Is:’ Markus Golden Won’t Be Upset Over Playing Time

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The Pittsburgh Steelers went down this road in 2021, signing Melvin Ingram as a quality pass rusher who was supposed to be the team’s #3 outside linebacker. Ingram was, for a little while, until he expressed his displeasure with the role and worked his way out of Pittsburgh, traded to Kansas City ahead of the deadline.

It’s led some to understandably be concerned about signing veteran pass rusher Markus Golden last week. Once bitten, twice shy. But to hear it from Golden, he won’t have the problem Ingram did, telling reporters via 93.7 The Fan he’s happy no matter what his role is.

“I know how football is,” Golden said via The Fan’s Josh Rowntree. “Anything can happen. So what I’m going to do is go hard every day, come to work every day, learn from these guys. And when the time comes, [whether] I play one play, [whether] I play 30 plays, I’m going to go hard.”

Comparing today to 2021, there are clear differences. Chiefly, they revolve around Alex Highsmith. Ingram’s issue was believing he was the better player than Highsmith, a second-year player who had yet to have his breakout campaign. But Highsmith is now coming off a monster, 14.5 sack season and is in-line to receive a hefty contract extension in the coming weeks.

Meaning, there’s no question about Highsmith’s ability or his role on the team. He’s the starter opposite T.J. Watt and it’s a fact Golden has to be aware of that fact.

“Whatever the coaches want me to come in here and do,” he said via the PPG’s Brian Batko. “I’ll be ready to hunt, man, and help the team win.”

Still, Golden will have to adjust to a new role. He’s been a starter throughout his career and started 14 of 17 games last season in Arizona, logging 781 snaps. Should Watt and Highsmith stay healthy, Golden’s snap count will be reduced to only a couple hundred as the Steelers’ new #3. When he’s been healthy, Golden has routinely been a 500+ snap count player and will have to get used to coming off the bench to play roughly 20-25 snaps per game, which comes out to roughly 380 snaps over a 17-game season.

Of course, Golden was also signed as an injury policy to the starters ahead of him. Odds are, Watt or Highsmith will miss at least some sliver of time, leading Golden to a bigger role. That happened with Ingram in 2021, seeing significant snaps the first three weeks of the year, before his total was reduced when Highsmith got healthier. Ideally, Watt and Highsmith miss a minimal amount of snaps, Golden accepts his role, and the Steelers return to a 50+ sack campaign, a streak broken in 2022.



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