Linebacker Arthur Moats stepped up big time for the Steelers this year, starting nine games when fellow linebacker Jarvis Jones went down and finishing the year with a career-high four sacks. Moats' role went from the unknown when he signed as a free agent last March, to a key cog in the defense down the stretch. Moats shared his thoughts on the 2014 season.
You were one of the key guys who stepped up this year and answered the next man up call. Was that important for you to do?
"You never want to see a guy go down, but at the same time we always preach next man up and I feel like I was able to exemplify that. This being my first year in the defense I felt like I could show guys what I could do. Being the new guy they might have read about you or seen you play, but nobody knows until they see it. The fact that I could come in and show I could play outside linebacker, which I hadn't played in a couple of years. For me to show that it built more confidence and trust in me."
Did you feel like you had to prove yourself coming in as a new guy?**
"Definitely. It was no different than my trust for the guys here. I knew about Lawrence Timmons and Jason Worilds and stuff like that. Until you are here every day with them, you respect their game but you want to see it firsthand. After going through a full season with those guys you saw it, they have it, and I think it worked both ways."
Speaking of next man up, have you ever experienced a season where so many players stepped up?
"It was literally pretty much at every position on defense. We had a major contributor go down at almost every position and a guy had to step up and did. The guys who stood out the most to me were Brice McCain and Antwon Blake. Those guys came up huge. Also, think about Vince Williams and Sean Spence making plays. And think about James Harrison coming out of retirement to have the season he did. That exemplifies the next man up. It also shows the depth we have. To be a winner you have to have depth. Going forward, if we continue to do that we can get to where we want to be."
You guys are all so tight. Does everyone push themselves to make sure you don't let each other down?
**"It's one of those things that it's bigger than the individual here. It's always about that is my brother. When you are out there on defense you feel like I have to do my assignment because I can't let this guy down. I feel like across the board we try to show that. We also compete against each other. When you see somebody doing something well, you think I have to do it that much better. From that aspect it makes us that much better and brings us that much closer."
What does Joey Porter brings to the linebackers?
"Mentality, fire, and intensity. That mindset of I don't care who that guy is, he will never block me. If they are running the ball this way, it's disrespectful. You have to make the running back know don't ever run the ball this way. Just that type of attitude. It's not just a game day thing. He does it every time we are in meetings, in practice going against our starters. He has that attitude every day and it trickled down through all of the players. I feel like it made us a lot better.
"Any time you are able to get a guy who is recently removed from the game and played in the scheme, he has done it and can tell you what your mindset should be. The fact that he played against some of the guys we played against and he is able to tell us what he did to get them is amazing."