If there is one personnel question above all others that is most up in the air for the Pittsburgh Steelers, it is who will play in the slot. Right now, the two leading contenders appear to be second-year safety Antoine Brooks Jr., who was announced as the starter for the Hall of Fame game, and veteran Arthur Maulet.
But others will trickle in over time, and Cameron Sutton is the fallback option. Right now, rookie seventh-round pick Tre Norwood, whom Tomlin announced during the draft as a Swiss Army knife, is not one of those options, but that could change.
“Right now we’re working Tre Norwood at safety”, he told reporters after practice on Friday. “He could be a guy that could roll down and play in there some. He has in college. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it”.
“Right now, we don’t want to give too many people too many things to focus on”, he added. “We’re keeping them locked down and letting them work there for a couple of days. We’ll have a meeting of the minds and determine who’s going to move where for the next block of days”.
On paper, the last thing you want to do to a rookie is to ask him to learn multiple positions at the same time. Their minds are likely spinning enough as it is just from all the adjustments that go along from graduating from an amateur college player to a professional NFL player.
The Steelers did move him around a bit during OTAs, a period that is geared primarily around conditioning work and very light installation, but when it comes to training camp, it’s about getting ready for the season.
If Norwood adapts well to the safety position—and he did garner some positive reviews from beat writers during OTAs, for what it’s worth—then perhaps they’ll give him some opportunities to slide into the box and see what he can do in the slot.
Given that there isn’t a lot of depth at safety, he stands to have a good chance of making the 53-man roster just by being competent at this point. That is enough to get a foot in the door, and over time, he can work on expanding his versatility as fit for the NFL level.
For the time being, the focus is on Brooks and Maulet. Chances are, if the slot competition actually gets past them, then the Steelers are in trouble anyway, or at least they’ll have to resort to playing Sutton, and putting James Pierre on the field outside.