2020 South Side Questions: Will Carlos Davis Make NFL Debut On Defense?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.

Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.

As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion

Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.

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: Will Carlos Davis make his NFL debut against the Dallas Cowboys and see snaps on defense?

At the moment, the Steelers have six defensive linemen on the 53-man roster. Only four of them practiced yesterday, with Tyson Alualu and Isaiah Buggs out. Buggs, however, practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday, and he did not appear to feel as though he would miss the Cowboys game when speaking to the media yesterday, either.

Even if he does suit up, however, it’s almost certain that Alualu will not, and that means rookie Carlos Davis would be in the position of the fifth defensive lineman for the game, though that doesn’t necessarily mean that he will get on the field defensively.

Assuming that Buggs is able to play, presumably he and Henry Mondeaux would be called upon to handle the nose tackle position. In most games this year so far, the fifth defensive lineman has played fewer than 10 snaps, so if they have to play a rookie they haven’t been comfortable dressing yet, they may work with a four-man rotation and accommodate with more nickel packages.

They could also work with different modified fronts, such as a 2-5-4. They already used a 3-5-3 look this past week with Alex Highsmith being used as an additional linebacker. The bottom line is that, provided that Buggs is able to play at least, there are a number of avenues the team could explore that would prevent them from being in the position of putting Davis on the field, if that was their prerogative.

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