In less than two weeks, we’ll be at training camp, watching the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 90 man roster roll through 14 practices and four games. There will be so much to learn, tons of things going on, so I want to lay out some of my expectations and hopes for each player before things start up and, frankly, all this speculation becomes irrelevant.
Moving onto the outside linebackers today.
James Harrison – I wouldn’t expect Harrison to get many reps in training camp. It’s quite probably he begins camp on the Active/PUP list, palling around in his grey hoodie and sweats. He’ll probably get some play in the third preseason game but that’s about it.
Bud Dupree – Really want to see him perfect a “go to” move. Don’t care what it is; a club, dip/rip, speed bull rush, just as long as you have something in your toolbox that makes tackles fear you. Making them respect and anticipate that helps sets up your counters and we’ve already seen Dupree is a hand fighter. He just needs to channel that energy into something constructive. Want to see him avoid getting run up the arc as often as he did last season.
Jarvis Jones – It’s tough to be too hopeful for Jarvis. But I don’t want to be negative either on the eve of a brand new season. In games, I want to see him stay on his feet and keep running to the ball hard like he showed last year. He just struggles with balance and takes himself out of plays. I think he’ll actually look good in practice. Technically, he’s solid and he offers a strong punch.
Arthur Moats – Not much to check out in the practices but as I wrote earlier this offseason, I want to see him be able to create pressure rather than it be designed for him. In the preseason with vanilla defenses, we’ll have a chance to see that, though also understand he probably won’t see a large share of reps.
Anthony Chickillo – Big camp for Chick. He had a nice showing last season, a seamless transition from playing as a defensive end at Miami. He played fast, won in a variety of different ways, and showed the ability to play on the left and right side. Want to see all those things carry over into this year, which I fully expect them to.
He’s going to really establish himself on special teams. Hope to see him be used on all four phases throughout the preseason. That’s how he’ll earn a hat on gameday.
Travis Feeney – First, he has to show he can make it through the entire camp without issue. Still worried about his hernia surgery and his health, not to mention conditioning level, as we make our way through camp. So that’s the most important thing to consider.
Other than that, he has a slender frame, and I worry about his ability to hold up against the run. Want to see how he functions as a force defender. His pass rushing moves weren’t special, I said as much shortly after the pick, so I want to see him win in more ways than just speed. Could be an uphill battle for the rookie.
Mike Reilly – Reilly wasn’t the first guy on the Steelers’ list but after several injuries, he got the call to come to camp. He has a bigger frame, 6’3 261, and hails from Mike Tomlin’s alma mater. So he has that going for him. On the negative, he tested as a marginal athlete, a 5.00 40, 9’2″ in the broad, and 30.5 inch vertical. That was two years ago so hopefully he’s transformed himself into a better athlete.