Training camp is now upon us, in case you have failed to take notice. The Pittsburgh Steelers reported to Latrobe on July 28, and began practicing the following day in preparation for their first preseason game on August 12, and eventually, for the 2016 regular season in April.
Every NFL season is like an investigation of sorts, with the offseason and preseason serving as the fact-finding portion, gathering the questions that are most prudent to ask in order to understand the story of the team in the current season. And it is in training camp that we really begin to start finding the answers to those questions.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in training camp and the preseason looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they head into a regular season in which they are among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Question: Does Ross Ventrone’s injury leave a roster spot open at safety?
For just about all of his NFL career, veteran Ross Ventrone has consistently found himself fighting to move up from the 54th man to the 53rd, and to keep himself there once he gets there. 53 to 54 is, of course, the distinction between being the last man on the roster and the first man off of it, usually on the practice squad.
Ventrone has spent his fair share of time on both the 53-man roster and the practice squad, but injuries have also gotten in the way in between. A hamstring injury last year helped get him cut, only to be brought back late in the season. An injury on Friday night just put him on injured reserve.
But already going in, there were real questions about whether or not the Steelers would keep him on the roster with that spot potentially needed somewhere else. Offsetting that is the fact that the team is using safety Sean Davis in the slot, leaving Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden to start in the back end, with Shamarko Thomas lurking behind him.
Considering the lack of depth at both cornerback and safety, the Steelers could conceivably be down to as few as eight realistic candidates in the secondary to make the 53-man roster, but it’s very rare for them to do so.
If they view Davis as part of their cornerback depth—which is obviously the case—then an extra defensive back could come from the safety position. Jordan Dangerfield has been around for years now and spent all of last season on the practice squad, a player who can hit hard and perform on special teams. A player similar to him, DaMon Cromartie-Smith, made the initial 53-man roster a few years back.
Or could it be that Will Allen finally gets the call he’s been looking for? He has made it clear that he still wants to play this year, and that he is waiting for the phone to ring from any team at this point. Put plainly—is there a safety not named Mitchell, Golden, Thomas, or Davis that could make this team?