Devil’s Advocate: Pressure From Behind For McCullers

You may recall for the past several offseasons that I ran an article series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take. I used it to explore different issues and topics the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing and took a positive or negative approach, examining each side in a separate article. This is essentially the same idea behind that, only condensed into one article for every topic.

In this version of the idea, I’ll be playing the Devil’s Advocate for both sides of the issue, looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios in trying to find the range of likely outcomes of what is likely to happen for the Steelers relating to whatever topic the article is covering.

When it comes to the process of trying to construct a championship roster, the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts, and several ways to acquire said parts. There are a lot of things that can go right or wrong in not always predictable ways, so I think it’s helpful to try to look at issues by seeking out the boundaries of the likely positive or negative results.

Topic: Could the likes of Roy Philon and Lavon Hooks help push Daniel McCullers off the 53-man roster?

I thought that I should start off this article by stating that I am not campaigning against Daniel McCullers to make the 53-man roster this season. It would be in the Steelers’ best interests if the fourth-year nose tackle earned his way onto the team. Really, it’s what they’ve been waiting for.

But there has been some recent momentum moving away from the notion that the former sixth-round draft pick has any sort of job security now, with multiple beat writers, including those who write for the team’s own website, having him firmly on the bubble. With the signing of Tyson Alualu and the team giving L.T. Walton practice reps at nose tackle, it’s a discussion to have, and which we have already had.

One aspect of the conversation that we haven’t talked about though is how the likes of Reserve/Future players Roy Philon and Lavon Hooks could influence the final determination of players on the 53-man roster.

Philon and Hooks, both undrafted free agents who have been in camp for the Steelers before, are defensive tackle bodies (even though their website lists Hooks as an end, he isn’t). I don’t think either of them are going to push for a spot on the 53-man roster.

But they could push for a spot on the practice squad, and if they have a second true defensive tackle on the practice squad—maybe even two of them—they would feel more comfortable moving on from McCullers in favor of somebody like Johnny Maxey if they can get what limited reserve nose reps they need out of Walton and Alualu.

But Philon and Hooks are a long way off from that. Neither have even made it to the Steelers’ practice squad before. Philon actually suffered an injury prior to the first preseason game last year, so he didn’t even get much of a chance. He was placed on injured reserve and received an injury settlement.

Can one of these two push for recognition?

Which side do you lean closer toward?

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