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The Pittsburgh Steelers’ “Hawaiian Punch” has some big shoes to fill

Pittsburgh Steelers DL Tyson Alualu doesn't have the explosive attributes of your typical first round draft pick, but the abilities he does possess makes him more than capable of getting the job done.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Not trying to be critical, but the truth is the truth. Tyson Alualu (pronounced AH-loo-AH-loo) is no Stephon Tuitt, the man who's production Alualu is being asked to help replace. Tuitt was having his best season prior to his injury, consistently being a disruptive force.

Tuitt has always had the superior athleticism needed to be one of the best defensive ends in the NFL, but durability has been an issue. Sadly for Tuitt, availability is one of the greatest abilities. Luckily for the Steelers, Alualu is nothing if not reliable. In no way exceptional, Alualu is a pro's pro. By definition, a solid contributor needed on any professional football team. Think Brett Keisel, sans the beard.

A better comparison to Alualu would have to be former Steelers DL Kimo von Oelhoffen, another journeyman lineman who flourished after joining the Steelers, and a native Hawaiian himself. Kimo became a key contributor on a stout Steelers defense that managed to bring a 5th Lombardi Trophy back to Pittsburgh in 2005.

It will undoubtedly take a joint effort by multiple players to help offset the loss of production created by Tuitt's season ending injury, but make no mistake about it, the Steelers need Alualu to pick up his share of the load.

Alualu is no stranger to great expectations, especially the unrealistic variety. Circumstances often created by no fault of his own. That is the inevitable result of being overdrafted. It comes with the territory.

A native of Honolulu, Hawaii, Alualu was a standout performer for the University of California, earning All Pac-10 honors as a senior. Alualu enjoyed a solid all around NFL Combine and pro day performance after the season, but nothing that would explain what transpired next.

While Tuitt was considered a excellent draft value, a second round selection with first round talent, Alualu was inexplicably selected with the 10th overall pick of the 2010 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Never possessing the talent necessary to justify the selection, Alualu was quickly labeled a bust.

Strange how one man's trash can become another man's treasure.

The Steelers signed Alualu to a two year contract prior to the 2017 season to add depth to their defensive line rotation. His performance as a Steeler over the last two years helped earn him a new two year contract during this past off season. Although Alualu has been asked to make a spot start or two, his main contributions have been as a backup.

Alualu has displayed impressive versatility, able to play meaningful minutes at each position along the defensive line at a above-the-line level. The Steelers value position versatility in their lineman on both the offensive and defensive lines, and Alualu definitely fits the bill.

Although not blessed with exceptional burst off the snap, Alualu has an excellent base with the strength necessary to occupy blockers against the run, and collapse the pocket versus the passing game.

Alualu is one of the Steelers underappreciated glue guys. He has the team first mentality necessary to excel as a quality backup on a team blessed with more than their fair share of stars. Alualu is more than happy to sacrifice his own statistics and revel vicariously in the adoration received by his teammates. He understands his value to the organization, and is clearly aware of his own limitations. His ability to tie up blockers allows his fellow defenders the opportunity to shine.

When blessed with the opportunity, watch Alualu interact with his teammates, both on and off the field. Always ready to offer support or advice to a starter coming off the field, Alualu acts as a second set of eyes on the sidelines, conveying the information gathered as an engaged sideline participant. Wisdom gathered over a nearly decade long professional career.

Alualu is a family man and respected member in his community. He appreciates the support and realistic expectations of the Steelers organization and Steelers Nation. His game has blossomed in the Pittsburgh environment and with his renewed mindset.

Although the expectations on Alualu may have kicked up a notch or two since Tuitt's injury, I believe he is more than capable of stepping up to the challenge.