It won’t be long now before the Pittsburgh Steelers begin rolling into Latrobe, PA to make Saint Vincent College their home away from home for several weeks as the summer winds down. That is when we know that training camp has begun, and with it the first breaths of the 2018 NFL season.
Everything that we have experienced up until now, from the re-signings, releases, and restructures to the draft and all the way through OTAs and minicamp, has been but a preview, the setup, for what is to come next.
And so we too continue to preview what comes next in a series in which we will highlight several of the battles for roster spots and roles that we expect to see during our time observing in training camp and throughout the preseason.
Up for Grabs: No. 4-5 Depth
In the Mix: Nat Berhe, Marcus Allen, Jordan Dangerfield, Malik Golden
The Steelers have the deepest group of safeties that they are bringing to camp that they have had in years. Every single one of them has at least been with the team for a previous training camp, barring the two rookie draft picks and the free agency additions, so all of them are more than the proverbial ‘camp bodies’ just there to fill out a practice roster.
We know that three players at the position are unquestionably locked in to roster spots already, which would come from each group: Sean Davis, the returning veteran and starter; Morgan Burnett, the free agent addition intended to start; and Terrell Edmunds, the first-round draft pick who will inevitably start at some point.
Behind them, we have our favorites, as do the odds-makers, but I don’t think anybody can be realistically ruled out for a roster spot, or ruled in for that matter. Nat Berhe, a free agent, and Marcus Allen, a rookie fifth-round pick they valued higher than that, are the favorites, but Jordan Dangerfield and Malik Golden both have an opportunity to secure a spot as well.
Dangerfield in particular is a player who has already been on the roster. He spent the entire 2016 season, all 16 games plus the postseason, on the 53-man roster, and even started two games. He suffered an injury at the end of the preseason a year ago, however, as did Malik Golden.
Both of them were waived injured and, lacking depth suddenly, the team went out and traded for J.J. Wilcox. With him on the roster, and committed by his salary, the only place for Dangerfield was the practice squad.
It will be interesting to see if either he or Golden can really make a serious push to unseat one of the favorites for what is likely going to be two roster spots. Dangerfield has historically been a strong performer in the preseason already, and Golden played well last year as well.
Either way, the competition should make the back end of the depth chart stronger.