The Pittsburgh Steelers well underway with the offseason workouts at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the heart of the offseason, where hope springs eternal following a few months of pretty significant changes, in terms of both departures and arrivals.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Who will be the team’s number three safety (and will he backup both safety positions)?
The Steelers currently have seven safeties on their roster, including Kameron Kelly, who spent at least some time practicing at free safety during OTAs. I think only four of them can make the argument that they are close to a roster lock.
Obviously, the starting safeties of Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds will not be going anywhere, anytime soon. Second-year man Marcus Allen also seems to be primed, potentially, for a somewhat more significant role. And Jordan Dangerfield is seemingly always there.
Edmunds was supposed to be the third safety last year, with Morgan Burnett starting, but those roles ended up being reversed. Edmunds and Davis stayed healthy, though, so the third safety discussion never came up.
But the free safety spot in particular is a little more challenging. I think the two spots are becoming less and less interchangeable for the Steelers, with greater and greater emphasis being placed on having an athlete at the back end.
It’s hard to make the argument that either Allen or Dangerfield fit that description, but they are also the only other safeties on the roster with any kind of meaningful experience. Kelly didn’t even make a practice squad last year—though he did play in the AAF—and the other two, P.J. Locke and Dravon Askew-Henry, are college free agents.
Unless one of the latter three make a significant push over the course the summer, either Allen or Dangerfield figure to be the first safety off the bench in the event of injury, which may not be the same player who comes in for the dime package. It may even be the case that the top backup for strong safety is different from the backup for free safety. That has yet to be determined.