With training camp just around the corner, it’s time to turn our focus on what is going on within each position, and on the roster as a whole. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be taking a closer look at some of the roster battles that we expect to see unfold over the course of training camp as the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the start of the 2021 season.
Unlike last season, which was carried out through a pandemic, things should return much to normal this year, which should help provide us with clearer insights into where people stand. The return of the preseason in particular is a crucial window into operations that we lacked a year ago.
Position: Defensive End
Up for Grabs: Backup Job
In the Mix: Chris Wormley, Isaiah Buggs, Carlos Davis, Henry Mondeaux, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Tyson Alualu
For completion’s sake, this discussion includes basically everybody who is not a starting defensive end and has a somewhat realistic chance of making the 53-man roster. This could be a fairly wide open competition.
Even Tyson Alualu could be the top backup defensive end while being the starting nose tackle, if, for example, the team feels good enough about Carlos Davis being able to play nose while Alualu fills in for an injured starter at end.
We have to start, though, with Chris Wormley, for whom the Steelers traded last year. A former third-round pick and part-time starter for the Ravens, he is in many ways your prototypical 3-4 defensive end, and even though he didn’t leave much of a mark a year ago (he was injured during his best opportunity to play), there’s a reason that they re-signed him. They believe he can deliver.
But that didn’t stop them from drafting Isaiahh Loudermilk in the fifth round, another player who can be considered in many ways a prototypical end. He’s not 100 percent guaranteed to make the roster, but he has to be inside the bubble as long as he doesn’t blow it, and so far, he seems to be getting positive feedback.
Buggs will be motivated to step up after a disappointing second season that saw him fall behind a bit. The question with Davis is whether or not the Steelers would put him at end, but they almost always ask their reserves to play multiple roles. They’d even talked about Daniel McCullers playing end.