The journey toward the 2017 season is now in full swing with the Pittsburgh Steelers having reported to Latrobe for their annual training camp at Saint Vincent College, where they have held their camps for over half a century now.
This is surely the time more than any other in which we find ourselves full of questions that we are looking to get answered, and this also tends to be the best time to get answers to those questions that have been building up over the course of time since the 2016 season ended.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the training camp and the preseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: Will Daniel McCullers be given opportunities to work with the second-team defense?
Frequent followers of our little corner of the internet are likely to have read an article that we posted yesterday in which defensive line coach John Mitchell talked about the decision to move third-year lineman L.T. Walton to nose tackle, at which he has been running with the second-team defense.
That decision has thus far pushed McCullers, the team’s fourth-year nose tackle, to the third team, which is a tough spot to be in for a lineman looking to make the 53-man roster—even one that has been on the roster for three years already.
But Mitchell did talk about Walton and McCullers competing, and the ultimate reality is that the two are not competing for one roster spot. Walton is likely to make it regardless of what happens with McCullers. The latter is more likely competing with Johnny Maxey and the rest of the field.
If the two aforementioned are vying to secure the backup nose tackle position, however, then one might assume that at some point they will take turns playing with different levels of the defense. It should be kept in mind that we are still rather early on in the process, without having even played a preseason game yet.
There was one offseason during the 2013 season when the Steelers were trying to decide how to formulate their offensive line, in particular the left tackle position after moving on from Max Starks. Marcus Gilbert got the first crack at it and many figured it would stay that way.
But a week or so into the process, Mike Adams was flipped over to left tackle instead, and he remained there…until he was benched four games in to the regular season.
But the point is that training camp is a fluid endeavor, and just because you see something now doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. Many have already written McCullers off, but I can’t help but wonder if he’ll be given second-team snaps in the near future to balance to opportunity level. After all, Walton is still learning the position, so he would have needed the opportunities.