When the Pittsburgh Steelers were on the clock and prepared to make the 15th overall selection in May's NFL draft, they had their choice of arguably the top two inside linebacker prospects. They chose Ohio State's Ryan Shazier over Alabama's C.J. Mosley. Two picks later, the Ravens took Mosley.
In a conference call with Baltimore reporters Wednesday, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin explained the decision, indicating that the organization had a greater familiarity with Shazier.
"It was just more about what we knew about him [that] we had a level of comfort with," Tomlin said of the former Ohio State standout. "We had a close, personal relationship with his program, with their defensive coaches, specifically. They spent a lot of time over here during the offseason and had for a number of years, particularly the years that he was there. … So it was more about that relationship and knowing the system in which he played and the parallels to ours."
Shazier has played in four of the Steelers' eight games, missing nearly a month with a knee injury. He has 16 tackles, including 11 in the Steelers' 26-6 loss to the Ravens in Week 2.
Mosley leads the Ravens with 73 tackles and is tied for the team lead with two interceptions. He also has six passes defended, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. On Thursday, he was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for October. He's the first Raven to win the award since outside linebacker Terrell Suggs in September 2003.
"He's a quality player, but we knew that going into the draft," Tomlin said of Mosley.
Getting his chance
Wide receiver Kamar Aiken started training camp as an apparent long shot to make the roster. Even after he did, he wasn't expected to have a major role on offense. Now, with Michael Campanaro (River Hill) injured and Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown struggling to make an impact, Aiken could step into the No. 3 receiver role.
"I just got to keep playing and let the plays come to me and not try to force the issue, and I think everything will work itself out. Just keep playing, and plays will be made," Aiken said. The opportunity is "not necessarily a surprise to me. I feel like I put in the work, so I'm kind of getting rewarded for it. Everything has been happening how it's supposed to happen."
Aiken has 11 catches for 113 yards and a touchdown this season. In Sunday's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, he was targeted six times and caught two passes for 15 yards, just missing a couple of big plays.
On fourth-and-goal from the Cincinnati 1 in the first quarter, Aiken dropped what would have been a touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Flacco. Early in the fourth quarter, Aiken appeared to have a step on his man on a deep route, but Flacco overthrew him.
With two sacks Sunday of Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback he has taken down more than any other in his career, Suggs would reach 100 sacks for his career. … Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak was optimistic that running back Bernard Pierce will be "back in the mix" Sunday after being inactive against Cincinnati. … Ravens special teams coordinator and associate head coach Jerry Rosburg wouldn't tip his hand on who will handle returns this week, saying, "We'll find out on Sunday." Jones has been the team's primary kick and punt returner but was replaced last week on punts by Campanaro.