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Badgers in the NFL: Keeanu Benton, Nick Herbig shine in Steelers debut

The former Badgers defensive duo had a day in their first preseason action.

Former Wisconsin Badgers Keeanu Benton and Nick Herbig both had days to remember in their first preseason action as members of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Benton, drafted at No. 49 in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft, had three tackles and a tackle for loss on a day where his explosiveness and ability as a disruptor were on full display in limited reps.

Herbig’s pass-rushing prowess was in the spotlight, as the fourth-rounder notched 1.5 sacks and a tackle for loss in his debut, showcasing his speed off the edge, as well as some nice moves to get to the inside.

Benton and Herbig were both forces on the Badgers’ defensive line, with the former serving as the top nose tackle during his career, making plays that didn't always show up on the stat sheet, while the latter accumulated 15.5 sacks in his final season.

Despite the strong performances, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was cautious in his evaluation of both players, pointing out the skill level of the competition in the preseason.

“The other day they weren’t playing against the ones,” Austin said, via “You want to see them against better competition. You want to see them play down after down, playing a number of snaps in a row, and see how they do.”

Benton and Herbig will both get a number of chances to do that, as the Steelers still have two more preseason games prior to their Week 1 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.

Nonetheless, it’s a good start for the former Badgers in their new home.