With spring drills officially over, I think we all understand that we’re all in for a long haul, six weeks in total, between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp. You know the drill. There’s little new information coming out during this period, so it serves as the perfect time both to look back, and to look ahead.
We’re going to be focusing mostly on the latter as we prepare—ever so patiently, of course—for training camp. The Pittsburgh Steelers right now have a fairly young roster with inexperienced players that they are hoping to take on a bigger role. The problem is that in many cases, they are still waiting on those players to show them something, and that is the focus of that series—as well as the occasional veteran with lingering questions.
Show me something, Robert Golden.
Much attention has been focused this offseason on Robert Golden, and rightly so as he is anticipated to move into the starting lineup full-time for the first time in his career. A fifth-year veteran, Golden showed last season that he was capable of playing on the defense during a four-game stint in which starter Will Allen was sideline with an ankle injury.
That first game, in which the injury occurred, was a bit shaky, during which he allowed a touchdown in coverage and showed some poor tackling technique, failing to bring his arms with him to his body in a play that was only salvaged by the fact that it was a gang tackle attempt.
Following that game, however, he settled down nicely into the starting role and had three quality games, in which he demonstrated his versatility in pairing off with Mike Mitchell to play in deep coverage, up in the box, and even coming in on a blitz.
In those three games, he recorded 17 tackles, almost all of them of the solo variety, and he recorded two of his four passes defensed playing in place of Allen. His lone interception, however, came later in the season against the Bengals as he played as a dime defender. He also had a pass deflection in that game, and another the following game, though that one would be better described as a dropped interception.
It’s fair to point out that his first start came against an impressive Cardinals offense that the defense held to just 13 points, and Golden was a part of that with eight tackles and a highly impressive pass breakup down the field that is displayed in the image accompanying this article.
By and large, this piece has been rather positive, and perhaps rightfully so, as Golden showed during his playing time most of all that he had the intelligence and athletic ability to earn the coaches’ trust that he can carry out anything in the defense thrown in his way.
But it cannot be denied that his general defensive experience remains fairly limited, and there have been instances of struggles in communication between the different levels of the defense that he has been a part of. I do believe he will be fine in the starting lineup, but it should also bear monitoring how he fares both at the start of the season and toward the end as the snaps he is unaccustomed to wear on him.