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Steelers DT DeMarvin Leal feeling ‘confident’ ahead of 2023 season

DeMarvin Leal feels a lot better than he did a year ago with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle DeMarvin Leal may not be a veteran yet, but the second-year pro has a better idea of what to expect going into the season than he did a year ago.

In Leal’s rookie season, he played in 11 games and recorded 14 tackles. He didn’t play all that much, but with an extra boost of confidence and experience, his time on the field is expected to rise.

“I feel a lot more confident,” Leal said via the team’s website. “When you have that confidence, playing with a team like this, it helps you be able to build your game and be more confident in yourself and do things that you knew you could do from the jump and just put them on display.

“Last year was a learning lesson. There were a lot of things that developed into my game that I had to put into my game on the fly. I feel like I adjusted pretty well for the first year doing a lot of different things. That helped me for this year knowing what I need to study, gave me more of a perspective to get ready.”

Leal will have to compete with second-round rookie Keeanu Benton for playing time among others, but as he goes into the season on a high, there’s hope that the second-year pro can be an impact player for the Steelers defensive line.

Leal and the Steelers host the San Francisco 49ers for the season opener at 1 p.m. ET Sunday in Pittsburgh’s Acrisure Stadium.