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The often overlooked value of Steelers reserve defensive end Johnny Maxey

Although he may not get much attention, defensive end Johnny Maxey is more important to the team’s success than we may think.

NFL: Preaseason-Pittsburgh Steelers at Carolina Panthers Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

A name that comes up periodically, but is still a mystery to many Steelers fans, is defensive end Johnny Maxey. Maxey is in many ways an NFL success story, if you consider where he played before getting a chance to prove himself at the professional level.

Maxey played at Mars Hill University, a private school which had never produced an NFL caliber player until Maxey arrived. After being signed by the Steelers last spring, he then had to survive his first NFL rookie camp; if he were fortunate enough to be invited to training camp, then he would have to compete for a roster spot against a host of talented defensive linemen.

Maxey's work ethic, along with his healthy fear of failure, helped him overcome these obstacles and landed a spot on the Steelers practice squad after initially being released.

As the season took its course and number of injuries on the defensive line started to mount, the second-year player out of Mars Hill was promoted to the Steelers active roster on December 24th, and quickly made his NFL debut, in what has been considered by many the signature game of the 2016 NFL season when the Stelelers beat the Ravens in dramatic fashion.

Maxey's contributions did not necessarily show up on the stat sheet that night, but he did log a large number of snaps, played a key role in limiting the Baltimore Ravens running game to a total of 84 yards rushing, and certainly had a hand in helping his Steelers to their biggest win in recent history. One week later, Maxey made his first tackle, and contributed to their overtime victory over the Cleveland Brown.

Perhaps many Steelers fans are not aware of Maxey's value, due to the fact that he is generally on the practice squad, and certainly does not hold the level of adoration of an Antonio Brown or James Harrison. One thing about the sport of football, each player who wears that uniform represents an essential part of the whole. If the Steelers are able to achieve their goal of winning the Superbowl this season, a player like Maxey should always be remember as someone who played his part in making it happen.