Holcomb ready to see Terrible Towels waving again

When the Steelers contacted inside linebacker Cole Holcomb about the possibility of joining them as a free agent, it didn't take a lot of convincing.

As it turns out, Holcomb has attended Steelers games as a fan and also has a connection to the team in his former college roommate, quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

"My uncle was a diehard Steelers fan," said Holcomb. "I grew up watching Pittsburgh games. Somehow my dad was a Raiders fan, I don't know how. Those were the two games I watched. I know the history behind this organization. I know what they're expecting, and I feel like I can fit in well and this is my kind of organization.

"I love the atmosphere. I love the fan base. I love the organization. You know, I love the coaching staff. And I'm just super, super excited to get started working with these guys."

Holcomb said his uncle took him when he was young to an AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh. He doesn't recall which one of the four AFC Championship Games that have been hosted in Pittsburgh since 2000 that he attended, but the 26-year-old does have a lasting memory from the game.

"I don't remember the team or who we were playing but I mean, all I can remember is like the Terrible Towels and everyone is going crazy," he said. "I just remember the atmosphere and how crazy it was."

If Holcomb, who was signed to a three-year deal by the Steelers last week, has any question if the stadium is still like that, he needed only ask Trubisky, his college roommate at the University of North Carolina.

In fact, through Trubisky, signed by the Steelers last year, Holcomb got to meet several of his new teammates.

"I got to know a lot of the guys through Mitch you know, because Mitch lives 10 minutes from me right now," Holcomb said. "We hang out a lot and I met some of the guys this offseason through them coming and hanging out with Mitch. And you know, it's been one of those things where we've always talked about it, you know, how cool it'd be to be teammates."

They don't have to talk about it any more. It's now a reality.

A fifth-round pick of the Commanders in 2019, Holcomb has appeared in 50 career games, with 48 of them being starts.

He's twice topped 100 tackles in a season, doing so in his rookie season and then again in 2021, when he had a career-high 145. Holcomb also has 4.5 career sacks, three interceptions and 10 pass defenses.

"The way I look at it, I'm very excited for the opportunity," Holcomb said. "I had a great defensive line in Washington and I'm joining another great new line in Pittsburgh. I watched a lot of these guys on tape. I feel very confident in my teammates in that I'll be able to fill any role they need me to fill."

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For the Steelers, that could be the role of an every-down linebacker, not that it will be a stretch for Holcomb.

He ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at his pro day with an excellent 6.77-second three-cone drill. And he's gotten better and better in coverage in his time in the NFL.

The Steelers have completely revamped their inside linebacker position from the 2022 season, as Myles Jack was released last week while Devin Bush and Robert Spillane signed as free agents with the Seahawks and Raiders, respectively.

Holcomb will be counted on along with another new signee, Elandon Roberts, to solidify the position with holdover Mark Robinson.

But he's accustomed to playing and playing a lot.

Prior to suffering a foot injury that required surgery in December, Holcomb rarely left the field for Washington in 2022. He played 92 percent of the team's defensive snaps in 2021, serving as the team's defensive play caller.

"I feel like I'm progressing very well on my rehab," Holcomb said of the surgery. "I feel like I'll be ready to go. I've had surgery before.

"I just took that mentality and just attacked it and I'm feeling good now and I'm feeling like, I'll be ready to go."

That will be important when the Steelers begin their offseason workouts.

Not only do they have new players at inside linebacker, they have a new position coach, as well, in Aaron Curry.

"I'm excited to get to work with him," Holcomb said. "Every time I talk to him, I'm like, dude, get me playbook. Like give me the playbook now. I'm ready to go, let's go step on the field. He's awesome. I'm excited to work with those guys."