Outside linebacker Ola Adeniyi came to practice today as he does every day, "Ready to take whatever reps I get and go to my fullest capacity."
But he was also paying attention.
The second-year pro noticed outside linebacker T.J. Watt wasn't out there.
"I think he was doing some individual stuff," Adeniyi said.
Also, linebacker Anthony Chickillo was placed on the Reserve/Commissioner Exempt List today.
The first-team reps Adeniyi took as a result "felt like taking any regular reps," he added.
But that wouldn't be the case come Monday night if Adeniyi is still taking them.
Watt and Chickillo are uncertain for the Steelers' upcoming hosting of the Dolphins. That might have Adeniyi in line to make his first NFL start in his seventh NFL game.
"It just depends how T.J. feels," Adeniyi said. "Whenever my number's called, I'm ready.
"That's the whole point of practice, to get acclimated to the gameplan. I feel like I've built myself and I'm ready for it.
"Even if T.J. plays, whatever reps I do get I'm still going to play my hardest."
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Head coach Mike Tomlin is also aware of what's happening ahead of Adeniyi on the depth chart, and it's affecting Tomlin's perception of the depth at the outside linebacker position.
"I am not feeling great, but such is life in the National Football League," he said on Tuesday.
Adeniyi played three defensive snaps in the Steelers' 24-17 victory over the Chargers on Oct. 13 in Los Angeles.
He's played 38 on the season, including one that stands out for all the wrong reasons.
It was Adeniyi, subbing in for Watt at the time, who was called for roughing Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson on second-and-8 from the Baltimore 27-yard line with 2:30 left in the fourth quarter on Oct. 6 at Heinz Field.
The Ravens eventually kicked the tying field goal with 10 seconds left in regulation and won the game in overtime.
"All I know is I didn't get a fine, which I'm happy about," Adeniyi said. "The coaches thought it was a legal play. Everybody thought it was a legal play. I felt down on myself when it happened. Everybody surrounding me just picked me up and told me to just keep playing.
"If I didn't get the fine, then that means I didn't do it."
The opportunity to perform high-leverage snaps in the Monday Night spotlight would offer Adeniyi, if not a shot at redemption, at least a chance to change the narrative.
He had said in training camp he wanted to make his name a household name.
The Monday Night Football audience typically includes a lot of households.
"My goal coming into this year was just to try to stand out on special teams, knowing the guys in front of me," Adeniyi said. "If my number's called on Monday, then I'll be ready to play."