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 outside linebackers.
Jarvis Jones: Jones had a disappointing rookie year. He received an incomplete grade for year two after most of it was wiped out due to a freak injury on a play in which he forced a fumble. How much has he grown since then? How much might that wrist injury continue to affect him going forward?
Arthur Moats: Moats is getting the first opportunity of his career to be a full-time starter as a 3-4 outside linebacker after being shoehorned into less ideal roles given his size and skill set. At least that’s how it looks on paper for now. How much playing time might Bud Dupree command, and how soon?
James Harrison: Harrison was retired when the Steelers called him last year when they needed a body at outside linebacker following Jones’ injury. But he came in right away and became much more than just a body. He logged a good number of snaps every game before ultimately taking over the starting position from Moats, with whom he had been rotating, registering 5.5 sacks in 11 games, most of which involved less than starter’s snaps.
Bud Dupree: The Steelers consider themselves fortunate to have had Dupree drop to them in the first round. He has all the physical tools you would look for at the position with size, speed, and athleticism, and they see in him much untapped potential. Despite the fact that he didn’t even have a linebacker’s coach, he gained a good understanding of what he will be asked to do in Pittsburgh during his college experience.
Howard Jones: An undrafted rookie last year, his nose for the ball kept him on the practice squad all season. He has added some bulk this year as he looks to make the jump to the 53-man roster.
Anthony Chickillo: A sixth-round rookie, Chickillo is entering a deep group as he seeks to move from end to linebacker. His college tape seems to lack a natural pass rushing instinct, but full evaluation must wait until we see him under Joey Porter’s tutelage, playing at the Steelers’ desired weight.
Shawn Lemon: A CFL standout last year, his 13 sacks and eight forced fumbles north of the border garnered some attention around the league, but his odds of making the Steelers’ roster have taken a hit since he first signed with them. Interviews paint a picture of a man undeterred by long odds.
Shayon Green: Green overcame a pair of ACL injuries in college, but went undrafted last year. After participating in Miami’s Pro Day earlier this year, the Steelers signed him to what has since become an extremely crowded group.