The Pittsburgh Steelers will close out their 2012 season Sunday at Heinz Field against the Cleveland Browns. Depending on how the flow of the game goes we could see several young players get some much needed playing time, especially if this game becomes a blowout.
Below are nine Steelers players to look for Sunday.
Steve McLendon – McLendon has played just over 125 snaps this season behind starter Casey Hampton with his most playing time coming in the season opener against the Denver Broncos. While Hampton is expected to start on Sunday against the Browns, the Steelers young nose tackle is expected to see some extended playing time, especially if the game gets out of hand. McLendon, who figures to be the starter in 2013, will be a restricted free agent after the season and should be easily retained with a tender.
Cameron Heyward – Heyward is putting the wraps on his second season. Heading into the game Sunday he has played right at 225 snaps on defense and figures to have a much bigger role in 2013. He will likely spell Brett Keisel on the right side early and often against the Browns and he certainly could use as many snaps that the team can get him.
Jason Worilds – With the status of James Harrison uncertain for next season, and LaMarr Woodley still not playing like he is 100%, Worilds is expected to get quite a few snaps Sunday against the Browns. The Steelers third-year linebacker has played all of 16 snaps in the past two games and could really use some work in the season finale. Worilds has managed to register 5 sacks this season in his limited playing time and could very well end the season as the team leader in that stat with a solid performance.
David Paulson – With Heath Miller now out for the season Paulson figures to be the starting tight end Sunday against the Browns. The rookie out of Oregon has to improve his blocking and must show that he can get separation when out in routes. This is a very big game for Paulson, who has no guarantees that he will stick next season should the Steelers spend a high draft pick on another tight end.
Stevenson Sylvester – The Steelers 2010 fifth round draft pick has played just one meaningless snap this season and 74 in total since coming into the league. Sylvester will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season and could be back next year on a one-year restricted tender. When and if Larry Foote and Lawrence Timmons exit the game on Sunday, Sylvester figures to be the next man up inside and he could really use the snaps.
Josh Victorian – Victorian was on the street just a few weeks ago and has since played 85 snaps in the last three games in the Steelers banged up secondary. He forced an interception last week against the Cincinnati Bengals with a nice play on the sideline and very well could see extended playing time Sunday against the Browns on the outside with Curtis Brown now on injured reserve and Keenan Lewis battling a knee and hip injury. Victorian very well might figure into the Steelers long-term plans and playing time for young cornerbacks in the Steelers secondary is very hard to come by. hopefully he gets a good bit of it.
Robert Golden – Golden appears to be the heir apparent to Ryan Clark at free safety and quite possibly a contributing dimeback moving forward into 2013. He has played mostly in the slot in the last two games and could see a few more snaps in that role on Sunday if things go right.
David Gilreath – With Mike Wallace ruled out on Friday and subsequently placed on injured reserve Gilreath was promoted to the 53 man roster. If Plaxico Burress dresses on Sunday then Gilreath might not see the field much if any. If, however, Burress winds up being one of the pregame inactives then Gilreath might get a few snaps on offense and perhaps possibly return a kick or two. The good news at the very least is that Gilreath is back under contract now and should be back in Latrobe next year for training camp to fight for a spot on the 2013 53 man roster.
Adrian Robinson – The Steelers preseason fan favorite has not seen a snap on defense all season and it is unclear if he will get an opportunity to show what he has learned over the course of the season on Sunday. Hopefully this game becomes a blowout very quickly because Robinson is fun to watch when he rushes the passer. Can he get a series or two worth of playing time? I wouldn\’t hold your breath, but you never know.
Alameda Ta\’amu – Ta\’amu, like Gilreath, was promoted to the active roster on Friday. The troubled fourth-round draft pick from this past April might not even dress on Sunday, but if he does, he might could get on the field for a handful of snaps at the end of the game.