The Pittsburgh Steelers have recently concluded their offseason schedule, complete with nine OTA practices and the three-day minicamp, and are currently off for about five weeks before they re-emerge in Latrobe for the start of training camp.
Not much is expected to happen between now and then as far as new goes regarding the team. Ideally, the players will simply be focused on getting in the best possible shape heading for the long haul that begins with training camp and concludes, hopefully, with a deep postseason run.
That means that the roster heading into camp should just about be set, so now during the dead time it’s worth taking a dip back into the positional depth charts to see where we stand following the offseason reports, continuing with the inside linebackers.
Lawrence Timmons: Timmons has been in Pittsburgh almost as long as Mike Tomlin, as he was the rookie head coach’s first ever draft selection in 2007. Nine years on, Timmons is coming off his first Pro Bowl season, and his seventh as a full-time starter, and is still under 30. He had been flying under the league’s radar for some time, and was finally rewarded for what had not even been his best season. I believe that he will be even better in 2015 with a more stable defense around him.
Ryan Shazier: But he may have as hard a time as ever getting to the ball carrier if the second-year starter, Shazier, lives up to his reputation. We saw glimpses of his game-changing speed early last season, but injuries got the best of him and spoiled his rookie campaign, losing his starting spot. He’s back where he started though, with more muscle, and a better grasp of the defense. He could break out in a big way.
Sean Spence: Spence is entering his fourth NFL season, but just his second as a contributor after spending the first two years of his career on injured reserve. He was the primary starter in place of Shazier during his injuries, and he held his own, although he did look at bit like a guy who hadn’t played much football in two years.
Vince Williams: Williams admitted earlier this offseason that it was difficult for him when the Steelers drafted Shazier in what seemed to be a suggestion that they weren’t comfortable with him in the starting lineup. But he got his playing time last year anyway and made the best of it, while becoming a fixture on special teams. He is a valuable backup, especially because he is fit to play the buck position.
Terence Garvin: Entering his third year, it’s starting to look as though Garvin might not develop into a defensive contributor, in spite of the fact that he is about as good a special teams player as the Steelers have. It will be tough to knock him off the roster for that reason alone.
Jordan Zumwalt: A sixth-round draft pick last season, Zumwalt spent his rookie year on injured reserve with a torn groin that required surgery. He hardly got a chance to participate last offseason, so it’s imperative that he gets a chance to put some work down on tape and force the coaches to make a tough decision.