JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Prior to this season, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Tyson Alualu was the second-longest tenured player on the Jaguars' roster.
Alualu spent seven years in Jacksonville. The team selected him with the 10th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
During his time on the First Coast, Alualu was a key cog on the defense, frequently volunteered for several charitable endeavors and served as a locker room leader.
While Alualu joined the Steelers during free agency in March, his impact on the Jaguars' locker room is still felt.
"Tyson had a huge impact on me," Jaguars nose tackle Abry Jones said in an interview with the Teal & Black Blitz Monday.
"If you know Tys, you know he's 100 percent all the time and just being around him, him just taking me under his wing, he was constantly on me when I wasn't doing things right or if I was ever taking a lazy approach and he let me work out with him to help me stay ready."
Jones received a big contract from the Jaguars in February. The former undrafted free agent developed his work ethic under Alualu. He credits the veteran linemen with preparing him for the rigors of the NFL.
"[He] just showed me the ropes of being a pro, Jones said. "Everything he taught me, I carry to this day."
Alualu was a leader and a mentor to several young players. He still maintains a special bond with second-year defensive tackle Sheldon Day.
"Tyson was the first vet to introduce himself to me," Day said. "He told me if I needed anything to reach out and he kind of helped me progress as a young guy learning the in's and out's of what to do in the league. I kind of followed behind him and modeled the way I carry myself in the building [after him]."
Day worked out with Alualu to improve his game this past offseason. The work has carried over into Day's regular-season workload.
"All last offseason I was with Tyson, trying to get stronger, trying to get better," Day said. "He was trying to help me hone my game to become a better defensive player because he played up-and-down the line and I tried to learn from that."
Jones, Day and Alualu still maintain a group chat with a few other veteran defensive linemen. On Sunday, the trio will be reunited in Pittsburgh at Heinz Field.
Bouye on matching up with Brown, Bryant
Jaguars cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey have established themselves as one of the better coverage duos in the league. On Sunday, they'll face their biggest coverage test yet.
Steelers wide receivers Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant offer two very different challenges. Brown is a speedster with strong route running ability. Bryant possesses 6-foot-4 height and 4.34-second 40-time speed.
In theory, Bouye matching up against Brown and Ramsey facing Bryant makes sense because of the size-speed variables. Despite that logic, those pairings may not happen.
"We don't know the game plan as far as that, we just lined up right and left today," Bouye said. "You're probably going to have to ask [Doug Marrone]. We're both confident in each other's abilities. That's been talked about every week but we'll see what they do.
Bouye and Ramsey put together a strong first quarter of the season. Brown and Bryant will test their might in what should be an intriguing battle between the two duos.
"At the end of the day, it's about what we can control," Bouye said. "That's our technique and executing the game plan."
Jackson on Steelers' offensive line
The Steelers' interior offensive line has yet to give up a sack this season. Center Maurkice Pouncey, left guard Ramon Foster and right guard David DeCastro have played together for several years. The trio has found a way to consistently protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
"I just think they have a good thing going," Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson said Wednesday. "If we're talking about their left side offensive line between [left tackle Alejandro Villanueva], Foster and Pouncey, you've got three guys - but first off, you've got a whole line that plays together for four years - so I think they have an understanding of where the plays are going and where the protection is. I think that's really all that is."
Jackson and Calais Campbell will try to shake up the Steelers' protection Sunday. The two players are hoping to get past their assignments, sack Roethlisberger and put a blemish on the interior line's season outlook.
Jackson has produced 1.5 sacks this season, while Campbell has 5.5 of his own. The duo may be the toughest test the Steelers' protection unit has faced this year.
"We have to throw some different looks at them," Jackson said. "I think me and Calais [Campbell] inside are different types of rushers than maybe they've seen. Hopefully, we can go out there and have success, because of the things we can. We'll see. I definitely want to put them to the test and see if they can keep that streak going."
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.
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