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Steelers OTAs: Arthur Moats continues to spell injured Jason Worilds

Moving inside and out, utilizing Moats' versatility will be the name of the Steelers' game this season with the newly acquired free agent from Buffalo.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH -- When Arthur Moats was on the free-agent signing trail looking for buyers, the Pittsburgh Steelers stood out for several reasons.

"Well, it was all about the Super Bowls for me,'' Moats said. "Super Bowls and great defenses. So, when I thought about coming over here in free agency, I felt like it would be great to be part of that. Our defense might have been down a bit last year, but we're ready to step it right back up to the top where it belongs. And as a defender, how could you not want to be a part of that.''

And after a discussion with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who said there was a dearth of outside linebacker depth, Moats signed a one-year, $795,000 contract in March.

"You don't want to go somewhere and not even get an opportunity, so I wanted to come to the Steelers,'' Moats said. "I felt like this was a good fit for me, and I would be a good fit for them. So, after talking with Coach Tomlin, I believe I can come in here and compete and be a major contributor on this defense.''

Tomlin isn't the only one looking forward to seeing how Moats fits into the Steelers defense. Watching him rush the passer from his outside linebacker spot this season might cause Steelers fans to have flashbacks.

It's not that Moats has put up prolific sack numbers in his career. Just five in four seasons with the Buffalo Bills won't stir memories of pass-rushing greats, but the No. 55 jersey that Moats wears for his new team just might.

Joey Porter, now a defensive assistant with the Steelers, tallied 98 sacks during a 13-year NFL career with the Steelers, Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals. And 60 of those came during eight memorable seasons in Pittsburgh.

"He's talked to be about it and told me that they wouldn't give that number to just anybody, so it's all good,'' Moats said after Tuesday's OTA practice at Heinz Field. "Coach Porter, his main thing is just to make sure that I'm giving it my all and to play at a high level. If I can do that, he's fine with it.''

Moats believed he had a lot to offer the Steelers linebacking corps. Versatility and durability are among his biggest assets. He missed just five games in four season with the Bills, but played all 16 last year with 12 starts.

"Well, I feel like I can do a lot of different things pretty well, like rushing the passer, being able to cover, play on the inside or the outside,'' Moats said. "So, I'm just going to keep working hard to get there.''

Moats likely is headed for a backup role with the Steelers, behind Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones on the outside, but he also could spell No. 1 pick Ryan Shazier or Lawrence Timmons on the inside if necessary.

"I feel like Arthur is an excellent addition to this team,'' Shazier said. "He has a great rush, and he's a great teammate. So, just having a great player like Arthur out there in different packages can really help out our defense.''

Moats said things were progressing pretty well as OTAs were winding down. The Steelers still have mini-camp workouts next week before closing out spring drills, and Moats was doing his best to adjust to the way the club does things. And he got a big assist from several fellow 'backers.

"The older guys have done a real good job helping me out whenever I need it,'' Moats said.

Older guys?

"I know, right? But guys like Lawrence Timmons, Chris Carter, guys who have been here for a while, they really have been helpful,'' Moats added. "Even Jarvis Jones, he's been a big help to me. They all have helped me understand things better and adapt to it. (And) I feel like we've got a good, versatile group.

"We have guys who are better at covering guys and others who are good pass-rushers. We also have some combo guys who can do a little of both, and I feel like that's what you need to have a successful linebacking group, especially with a team like this one that uses so many linebackers.''

The Steelers have been fortunate to have so many this spring, because Moats has had to sub for injured Jason Worilds as the club's starting left outside linebacker. Worilds has been out with a calf injury since the opening OTA.

"Hey, I just do what they ask me to do,'' Moats said.

The Steelers are hopeful that's enough to help them play great defense again and win more Super Bowls, which are high on Moats' list as well.