As the days continue to tick away before the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2015 training camp opens in Latrobe at the end of the month, we continue to preview some of the major storylines to look out for as the weeks progress.
One of the more exciting aspects of training camp is always keeping an eye on the roster battles, and the Steelers appear to have a deeper 90-man roster than has been the case in recent years. As a result, there are several spots in particular at which the coaching staff figures to have a difficult decision to make when the roster cuts must be made.
The nose tackle position will be a lot more interesting after the regular season than before it. For now, the depth chart as settled as anywhere, Steve McLendon the starter with Daniel McCullers the backup. After the season, when McLendon’s contract is up, is when they will determine the team’s faith in Shade Tree.
The only question is the amount of snaps McCullers eats into McLendon’s. There aren’t many snaps to go around to begin with considering the Steelers played in their base 3-4 roughly half the time in 2014. The next best chance for playing time comes in subpackage and McCullers seems more likely to see time there, his massive frame capable of collapsing the pocket.
Perhaps this is the reason why there’s hardly anyone behind those two. The Steelers had five nose tackles on the training camp roster last year, six if you include Cam Thomas, compared to only three this year. The team realized their mistake of being so heavy there, I remember Roy Philon and Al Lapuaho rarely getting playing time, wasting their time and the teams.
The only other candidate on the roster is Mike Thornton, added to the roster after impressing at rookie minicamp. He’s almost certainly added weight but came out of college at 295 pounds, likely still making him underweight for the position by camp.