Alualu seeking a clean slate
The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH — Tyson Alualu spent seven years in Jacksonville trying to help revive a struggling franchise while simultaneously trying to live up to his draft pedigree.
Neither really happened. Alualu, the 10th overall pick in the 2010 draft, never registered more than 3¢ sacks in a season. The Jaguars never won more than eight games in a season.
No wonder Alualu is eager for a fresh start in Pittsburgh. The Steelers signed the 29-year-old defensive lineman to a two-year deal on Tuesday to provide depth and experience behind starting ends Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt and nose tackle Javon Hargrave.
Alualu visited the Steelers on Monday, the first of what was supposed to be several stops for the free agent.
Instead he ended up sticking around, won over by the chance to join a perennial contender, something that never materialized with the Jaguars.
“Had some tough years out in Jacksonville and wanted something to change, a good change,” Alualu said. “Excited to be here.”
Alualu finished with 17¢ sacks with the Jaguars while moving up and down the defensive line, versatility that should help him fit in with the Steelers.
Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Keith Butler likes to mix things up with his front three searching for matchups to exploit. The 6-foot-3, 295-pound Alualu has the height to be disruptive off the edge and the size to plug up the middle.
“Wherever they want me to play, I’m all for it,” Alualu said.
Pittsburgh overcame a slow start to finish with 38 sacks, tied for ninth-most in the NFL. Only 11 came from the line, which was forced to play the second half of the season without Heyward while he recovered from a torn pectoral muscle.
Alualu stressed he was grateful for the opportunity to play in Jacksonville, but added the losing wore on him.
“I think the tough thing was not winning games,” Alualu said. “Out of my seven years, my best season was my rookie year and we went 8-8.”
It was the high-water mark during Alualu’s time with the Jaguars, who haven’t won more than five games in any season since 2010. Compare that to Pittsburgh, which hasn’t finished under .500 since 2003.
“It’s a place that loves to win and I love to be a part of that and I’m just excited by that opportunity,” Alualu said.