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: Outside Linebacker
Up for Grabs: Backup Job
In the Mix: Cassius Marsh, Quincy Roche
After losing both Bud Dupree and Ola Adeniyi in free agency this offseason, the Steelers were dealt a blow both to their starting lineup and their depth at the outside linebacker position. While they are quite fortunate to carry over arguably the best defender in the league in T.J. Watt, and second-year Alex Highsmith offers promise as a potential starter, major question marks abound beyond the two at the top of the depth chart.
Realistically, at least as of the time of this writing, there are really only two candidates in the bid to serve as the team’s top backup outside linebacker. The first is Cassius Marsh, a veteran journeyman who did spend a brief period of time on the roster at the end of last season.
The other is rookie Quincy Roche, a sixth-round pick out of Miami by way of Temple. Despite being selected in the late rounds, many regard him as a steal, and the reality is that the Steelers haven’t left themselves with alternatives, as the rest of the depth chart is filled by inexperienced former undrafted free agents.
It remains to be seen whether or not there will even be any significance behind the idea of a number three edge rusher, as it’s possible that both will rotate in quite heavily. They may even take a one-handed approach, with one focusing on one side of the field, the other on the opposite side.
That’s probably unlikely, though, as the Steelers do prefer their rushers to be ambidextrous, so to speak, particularly their reserves. And you want somebody who is capable of stepping up and filling in to start on either side if there is an injury.
Does Marsh’s experience give him the edge? I think a strong case can be made in that regard. He reportedly did flash well during OTAs and minicamp, albeit against rookie Dan Moore Jr. at tackle. Roche will have his opportunity to demonstrate his skill during training camp and the preseason. Realistically, I don’t anticipate anybody else jumping into the conversation, but I’m open to being pleasantly surprised.