Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Chickillo Shrinks into Role at Olb

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Chickillo Shrinks into Role at Olb

Article excerpt

When he was at the University of Miami, Anthony Chickillo was a stocky interior defensive lineman for the Hurricanes. That's not the position where the Steelers typically go searching to find an outside linebacker.

He weighed 285 pounds and was accustomed to rushing from the inside, not the edge as he does in the Steelers 3-4 defense.

Now, after losing nearly 40 pounds and possessing what his teammates say is the quickest first step among all the outside linebackers, Chickillo could see one thing possibly rising: His position on the depth chart.

After missing the first preseason game because of injury, Chickillo started for Bud Dupree at left outside linebacker and had two sacks, a team-high four unassisted tackles and a pass break-up Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. That was nothing new to the coaches and his teammates, who have watched Chickillo be one of the standouts since training camp began.

"Chick is awesome," said defensive end Stephon Tuitt, who lines next to him on the left side of the defense. "He's a hard-working player. You see it, he does everything 100 percent. Him coming out here and making the plays he makes, we're used to seeing that from him."

"He's become a complete pass-rusher," defensive end Cam Heyward said. "He can do it with his hand in the ground, he can do it standing up. You love the growth he's shown over the years."

Chickillo might be growing in that area, but he is shrinking in another. Since coming to the Steelers as a sixth-round draft choice in 2015, he has changed his body type through nutrition and workouts and now weighs between 245 and 250 pounds - the lightest he has weighed since he was a freshman coming out of Alonso High School in Tampa, Fla.

"I always felt I should play at what I weigh now," Chickillo said. "In college, they asked me to do something different. I like being this way. I like playing this position I'm playing now. I feel a lot better, I feel a lot more explosive. …

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