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 running backs.
Heath Miller: Miller is just beginning his second decade in the league. How many more years might he have left? That’s really not a question for now, of course, as there is no expectation of a drop off in his play just yet.
But I might wonder if the Steelers would start to spell him, as they did in James Farrior’s final season. Both of them were warriors, logging just about every snap possible. Miller logged more snaps than any tight end in the league last year. If the young talent at the position develops, that is simply not necessary. Perhaps it could even extend his career an extra year or two.
Matt Spaeth: Spaeth is not much younger than Miller, and so the Steelers have to wonder how much longer they will have the services of not just their starter, but also their second tight end, who was integral to the success of the running game last season.
He may still be dealing with the effects of a banged up elbow that he suffered last season, which caused him to miss one game. But that was a far cry from the 12 games he missed in 2013, and the results in the running game showed.
Jesse James: Part of the transition process will be James, a 21-year-old, 6’7” prospect who came out a year early, and who was one of the few tight ends in the draft the Steelers viewed as an in-line blocker. The Steelers seem to be really high on his upside and his ability to contribute in the passing game as a red zone threat, so that will be something to monitor.
Rob Blanchflower: Though I still like Blanchflower, it does seem that his odds of making the team are growing longer. He showed well by the end of the preseason last year, and stuck to the practice squad, but he seemed constantly banged up.
Cameron Clear: There were some who questioned Clear’s blocking ability despite his enormous size, but he has gotten a bit of mention during spring practices, and could be in competition for a spot on the practice squad. He was brought in for a pre-draft visit and then signed after the draft.
Michael Egnew: A Reserve/Future signing, Egnew was a former third-round draft pick who never developed as a blocker despite having decent size. He is now on his fourth team since begin drafted in 2012, though that includes brief stints with the Lions in August last year and a short stay on the Jaguar’s practice squad in September. He was basically out of football last season.