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Rookie Recap: Nick Herbig

Going into the 2023 season, the thought was rookie linebacker Nick Herbig would be a contributor on special teams, but his impact beyond that wasn't yet determined. 

The fourth-round pick out of Wisconsin wasted no time letting it be known there was more he could do. 

He finished the season with 22 tackles, 15 of them solo stops, and three sacks for a loss of 24 yards. He also had five tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. 

Herbig also added five special teams tackles, four of them solo stops. 

"I learned a lot this year about who I am on and off the field," said Herbig. "I have taken a lot from T.J. (Watt), Alex (Highsmith) and M.G. (Markus Golden). I learned a lot from them. I had a lot of fun out there for sure."

Herbig stepped up big when there were injuries, or just when Watt or Highsmith needed a breather. His progress throughout the year was noticeable, and his snaps grew along with that progress. 

Herbig came up with one of the biggest defensive plays of the game for the Steelers against the Seattle Seahawks in a crucial Week 17 win, even though he only played two defensive snaps in the game. 

In the fourth quarter, with the Steelers leading, 27-20, Herbig sacked Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith, stripping the ball from him and coming up with the recovery at the Seattle 16-yard line. The Steelers converted the turnover into a field goal to extend the lead, 30-20. 

"From Day 1, Coach (Mike) Tomlin has talked about the standard is the standard. We even have shirts that say that," said Herbig. "When I have guys like T.J., Alex and Markus in front of me, and I hear my number called, I have to make sure the standard is the standard. T.J. and Alex have been making those plays all year. I have to uphold that standard as well."

Watt has enjoyed being there for Herbig, including after the rookie didn't know what to do once he made the strip sack against the Seahawks.

"It's funny because after the fact we talked about it, and it's those first big plays of your career. I've talked about it a lot as you black out," said Watt. "You don't really know what's going on. You're just so excited. You have so much emotion. So, I was just trying to coach him through it all. Let's hit the handshake quick. Let's have some fun. He was kind of running all over and I was like all the cameras are over here. Let's go over here and I was walking through the process of the whole thing."

Watt loves seeing the success all of the outside linebackers have because he sees the work they put in on a daily basis. 

"You know how much work he's put in," said Watt. "You guys see all the reps we put in before and after practice. That goes for all the outside linebackers. When that feeling pays off and you get home and you're able to make a huge play, it's an addictive feeling and I'm glad that he got a taste of it and you continue to strive to do that more.

"When anybody makes a play, specifically a guy in our room because I see the amount of work and I see all the things behind the scenes that go into those big plays. None of that stuff just happens by chance. There's so many reps that go into it that make those plays. 

"When you get that opportunity, you seize the moment. It's a heck of a play on his part."


Total Tackles    
6 vs. New England Patriots, Dec 07, 2023
3 vs. Cincinnati Bengals, Dec 23, 2023
3 vs. Cleveland Browns, Sep 18, 2023
2 at Indianapolis Colts, Dec 16, 2023
1 more at 2.

Solo Tackles    
4 vs. New England Patriots, Dec 07, 2023
2 vs. Cincinnati Bengals, Dec 23, 2023
2 at Los Angeles Rams, Oct 22, 2023
1 more at 2.

Forced Fumbles    
1 at Seattle Seahawks, Dec 31, 2023
1 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, Oct 29, 2023
Tackles For Loss    
1 vs. New England Patriots, Dec 07, 2023
1 vs. Arizona Cardinals, Dec 03, 2023
3 more at 1.

Special Teams Tackles    
1 vs. New England Patriots, Dec 07, 2023
1 at Cleveland Browns, Nov 19, 2023