This is a bit of housekeeping of sorts, but one that I thought it worth passing along as the Pittsburgh Steelers add a new safety into the mix. As starting strong safety Sean Davis sits out team drills during OTAs up to this point, it has been Robert Golden, who entered last season as the starter, who has been running the first-team defense with Mike Mitchell.
This became an important point because of the fact that Jordan Dangerfield appeared to pass him on the depth chart late in the season after he lost his starting job to Davis heading down the stretch. Whenever one of the starters would have to check out of the game, it would be the first-year Dangerfield to replace him.
“With Sean Davis only participating in drills as he recovers from shoulder surgery, Golden teams with Mike Mitchell on the first team ahead of second-teamers Jordan Dangerfield and Jacob Hagen”, Jim Wexell wrote yesterday.
Golden, who was primarily a cornerback in college, originally signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2012, drawing comparison, at least from his new head coach, to Brian Dawkins, which earned him the nickname “Lil Dawk”.
While he spent the bulk of his first three seasons as a special-teamer, over the course of which he emerged as the team’s selection for captain of that group, Golden began to play a more prominent role in 2015, entering the game as a dime player. He made three starts, but essentially started four full games in place of Will Allen while he was injured that year.
The coaching staff was impressed enough by what they saw in him that they felt comfortable enough in using him as a transitional starter at strong safety while they developed a rookie, in this case Davis, who proved to be a quick enough study to begin starting by the end of his rookie season.
Golden, however, dealt with injuries during the early portions of the season as well, which affected both his play and his playing time. He played in 13 games, starting seven of them, but he was losing snaps to Davis in those final two starts, and after that lost out to Dangerfield.
From the time that he lost his starting job to the end of the playoffs, Golden played just 32 more snaps. While he retained his role as the top backup through the Baltimore game, he did not play another down on defense after that.
And it wasn’t because there were no more snaps left to play. They played four more games after that, of course. And Dangerfield logged 22 snaps on defense, often doing so even as a third safety.
Because of this, many have been speculating about Golden and his role and future with the team after he signed a three-year contract with the Steelers last year. At the moment, at least in the early part of the offseason, it appears as though he remains the third safety for the team, even as they brought in Daimion Stafford.