The Pittsburgh Steelers will take on the New York Giants Saturday night in their preseason opener and there are several defensive players still on the roster bubble. Here is a look at six players on that bubble, that in my opinion, have the most to gain or lose.
DaMon Cromartie-Smith – According to several members of the media that cover the team, Cromartie-Smith is having a solid cap. That\’s a good thing for him as he is no longer eligible for the practice squad. There is a good chance the Steelers could keep five safeties and five cornerbacks this year because of the versatility that Robert Golden and rookie Shamarko Thomas possess, so the Texas-El Paso product can inch himself inside the bubble with a strong preseason. Don\’t be surprised if Cromartie-Smith is the first safety off the bench once the starters exit the game.
Marshall McFadden – McFadden figures to be in the running for a backup linebacker spot and he needs to pick up Saturday night right where he left off last offseason. McFadden should be a lot more comfortable with the defense now and he very well could be beside Stevenson Sylvester when the second team defense takes the field. While both Kion Wilson and rookie Vince Williams should still be considered candidates, I view McFadden as the leader in the clubhouse right now.
Josh Victorian – Being as several cornerbacks will be down Saturday night with injuries, Victorian should see a lot of playing time in the first half and perhaps even into the second half. Nobody has more to gain over the course of the next few weeks, so it is up to him to show he can be the fifth cornerback on the roster. Making a few plays on special teams certainly won\’t hurt his cause.
Adrian Robinson – Last year, Robinson waltzed right onto the 53 man roster as an undrafted free agent, but this year that spot is far from guaranteed. Another undrafted free agent, Alan Baxter, might very well have him in his sights after a strong start in training camp, so Robinson needs to show that he can not only drop in coverage, but sack the quarterback instead of just pressuring like he did last preseason.
Hebron Fangupo – Fangupo might very well be the first nose tackle in the game Saturday night once Steve McLendon exits. That is of course if defensive end Al Woods doesn\’t get time there first. Fangupo appears to be having an uneven training camp so far and he is reportedly frustrating defensive line coach John Mitchell in the process. There is no guarantee the Steelers will carry six defensive linemen on the 53 man roster, especially if they think Woods can play nose tackle, so Fangupo has a lot to prove over the course of the preseason.
Alameda Ta\’amu – Ta\’amu, who is fresh off the PUP list after arriving to training camp with an injured hamstring, was listed behind Fangupo on the latest depth chart, so he has some missed time and ground to make up over the course of the next several weeks. His first week of practice wasn\’t the best, according to Craig Wolfley, so watch his hand use closely during this game. Ta\’amu did, however, show up to Latrobe in much better shape, but it\’s time for him to show at least a little development Saturday night.