Keeanu Benton has only played nine games in his young NFL career, but he has really come on strong for the Pittbsburgh Steelers as of late. He has played roughly 65 percent of the team’s snaps over the last two weeks and has 22 total tackles, one sack, and six quarterback hits so far in his career.
He was a second-round draft selection for the Steelers and is already showing flashes of greatness in his rookie campaign. His number of snaps have steadily climbed throughout the season as he gets more comfortable and it is showing on the field as he continues to emerge as one of the Steelers’ young stars. Following the Week Ten game against the Green Bay Packers, Mike Tomlin praised Benton as a guy who has “come on like gangbusters.”
Benton was asked about the uptick in his production over the last two weeks.
“It just comes with getting more reps,” Benton told the Pittsburgh media during his Friday press availability on the Steelers’ website. “Getting a better understanding of our defense and what we’re trying to accomplish. I don’t think it’s been drastic changes, but just fine tuning those details and nuances of the game.”
Especially with an injury to Cameron Heyward that landed him on the reserve/injured list for six games this season, it would have been easy to throw Benton into the fire as a rookie, but the team took a methodical approach to increasing his snap counts to develop him properly.
“Just kind of getting your feet wet in the beginning, I feel like was a necessity because you go out there as a rookie, young guy, bright eyes…seeing too much, getting out of your gap, kind of just letting anxiety take over. So I feel like it was a good approach to just let me get a couple reps here and there and then start to lean on me more and more as I get comfortable.”
That approach appears to be paying off as Benton is providing a spark to the defensive front. He has been playing more than ever, and that trend should continue with Montravius Adams ruled out for Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.