With the Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp for the 2015 season now in swing, it’s time to get down to the business of football. The time for “football in shorts” or “football-like” events is over as teams all around the league embark on their own personal journey for the upcoming season.
Although for just about every team the time leading up to the regular season and reflect a period of optimism, it’s also a period of great uncertainty, which means that there are a lot of questions that need to be answered before we know who or what a team truly is. It’s a process that can last well into the regular season.
I think one of the biggest questions lurking in the back of everyone’s minds is how long the shoulder injury of Senquez Golson will keep him off the practice field, and, naturally, how much that will affect his development.
Considering that the cornerback position was acknowledged as a major need by the front office, and the fact that Golson is a second-round draft pick at the position, it goes without saying that many eyes are watching him and waiting for him to get on the field to show what he can do.
But the slight corner was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform List to start training camp, which put the Steelers down to just six cornerbacks to play around with on the field until a recent addition was made.
Doran Grant was another rookie cornerback selected in the fourth round, and he has had the opportunity to see a greater frequency of higher-quality reps on defense during training camp with Golson sidelined. He had an interception in the Seven Shots drill two days ago that would have been returned to the house.
Others have also reported that he looks bigger and quicker to the ball than his college tape revealed. While he will naturally have his ups and downs as a first-time NFL player, he seems to have shown well for himself overall.
Enough, perhaps, to put him ahead of Golson in the pecking order, depending on how long the second-rounder remains sidelined. I have already speculated earlier this offseason that Grant’s steadfast tackling performance could help him gain the trust of the coaches more quickly, which could translate into playing time.
It is unclear, though, just where Grant or Golson might end up on the depth chart, however, because, barring the newest inclusion, that are the two least experienced players at the position, with the least tenure with the Steelers. Even Jordan Sullen spent time on the practice squad a year ago, though he’s been away for all of this year until a few days ago.
What is also unclear is how significant that shoulder injury might be. While Golson has suggested that it’s nothing to worry about, some have suggested that the move to sign Sullen could say something about how long the team expects him to be sidelined. And while that creates an opportunity for Grant and others to get ahead, it puts a very valuable draft pick behind in his progress.