LATROBE, Pennsylvania — Kwon Alexander doesn’t act like a player whose best days may be behind him. If anything, the former Pro Bowl linebacker carries the attitude that his best days in the NFL are still ahead.
Just hours after signing with the Steelers and minutes after participating in his first practice with Pittsburgh, Alexander held court with the media. During the interview, Alexander made it clear that, while he will accept whatever role the Steelers ask him to fill, he’s coming in to compete and to make a difference on what is already a solid defense.
“We’re working to be the best linebacker group there is,” Alexander said. “I’m very confident in myself and my abilities to come out and make plays.”
If he’s at his best, Alexander would be a major boost for the Steelers’ defense. He was a Pro Bowler for the Buccaneers in 2017 a year after leading the NFL with 108 solo tackles. Two years later, Alexander was a key cog on a 49ers’ defense that led San Francisco to the Super Bowl.
Injuries, however, have also been part of Alexander’s NFL story. He played in just 14 total games during the 2018-19 season while dealing with knee and chest injuries. A torn Achilles prematurely ended his 2021 season after 12 games.
“I’m not really worried about the past,” Alexander said when asked if his previous injury history prevented him from signing earlier in the offseason. “I’m worried about the future right now. … The future looks amazing. Legendary. I’m ready to go out and play.”
Alexander will compete for playing time along with fellow newcomers Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts. Both players were asked about Alexander’s arrival prior to Sunday’s practice.
“I am excited. I think Kwon is a helluva player,” Holcomb said, via the team’s website. “He is going to bring a lot to the room. It’s great competition. It’s good. I am excited.
“I am excited to get to work with him. He is a helluva player. He is a Pro Bowler.”
“I think competition pushes the room to be better,” Roberts said. “I love competition. I hate to be feeling complacent because sometimes you might miss something in your own development. I love to be pushed and I feel like that makes the team better when it’s a competitive practice every day.”
At the start of camp, Steelers GM Omar Khan said that competition was the biggest thing he was excited to see over the course of the summer. Needless to say, Khan and the rest of the Steelers’ brass are excited to see what unfolds at inside linebacker with Alexander now in the mix.
“There’s a solid NFL player with a lot of in-game experience,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of Alexander following Sunday’s practice. “He’s got experience but, at the same time, he’s still only 28 years old. I think competition is an awesome thing. We don’t have any preconceived notions about a role. We’ve got some very capable guys at that position. We’ll put him in an environment like this and let them sort themselves out.”