PITTSBURGH -- Tyson Alualu has only gotten the chance to go back to Jacksonville during an NFL season since once signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017.
Not that he hasn't faced his former team multiple times, but this one feels different. In the Steelers first two games against the Jaguars since Alualu's arrival, they've fallen short - twice.
Pittsburgh hosted the Jacksonville Jaguars two times during Alualu's first season with the Steelers in 2017. The first time, Week 5 of the season, they were beaten 30-9. The second time, in the divisional round of the playoffs, they lost 45-42.
The Steelers only win came in 2018 when they defeated the Jaguars 20-16 in Jacksonville.
This year appears different. The Jaguars are 1-8 as they prepare to host the 9-0 Steelers. Pittsburgh has come close to "trap" games but hasn't fallen short through 10 weeks of the season. And, this time, the Steelers are on Jacksonville's turf.
"It means a lot to me," Alualu said on returning to his first NFL city. "Jacksonville is our [mine and my family's] second home. [We] laid so much roots there, been there for seven years. So, the city of Jacksonville means a lot, the people. Just the get a chance to go back and play there is a true blessing."
Getting to play the team that drafted you holds special meaning to NFL players, according to Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward.
Alualu was taken 10th overall in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Jaguars and looked at as a key building block for the defense. After seven years with the organization, becoming more of a role player than a true starter at the time, the team decided to allow Alualu to walk in free agency.
Which he then signed with the Steelers.
"It's the team you've got drafted to," Heyward said on Alualu returning to Jacksonville. "You always want to win in a good way and end up on top when you're playing the team that you left."
Still, the focus for Alualu and the Steelers remains the same, reunion or not.
"It's always about business," Alualu said. "We've got to go in there and take care of business and come out with a win."