Now that training camp has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: CB Stephen Denmark
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The first-year cornerback has made some plays in the early portions of training camp, and he has drawn attention to himself as a potential dark horse candidate to make the 53-man roster.
When it comes to pulling support behind him, Stephen Denmark has a few things going for him. For one thing, he’s an underdog, and everybody loves an underdog. He also plays a position lacking depth, and he is a tall cornerback—another asset for fan support.
Then you start making plays in training camp on top of that, and you start to get this conversation about whether or not he is going to make the 53-man roster. It helps that the Steelers also have a third-year high-round draft pick who is not showing any strong indications that he is making progress, that being Justin Layne.
But he is a tall cornerback. He does play a position in need of depth, and new blood in general, and he has made some plays during training camp. He is setting himself up for the opportunity to make a push, and that opportunity will come inside of stadiums in the preseason.
When he plays and for how long is another discussion, but it should be at least a reasonable amount. If you look at the team’s official depth chart, he’s actually at the very end, the only member of the ‘fourth’ team behind Mark Gilbert and DeMarkus Acy, but in terms of playing time, the depth chart doesn’t necessarily mean much. And it will change over the course of the preseason, as well, if performance dictates it.
As far as the 53-man roster goes, there is an opportunity. At cornerback/slot, you have Joe Haden, Cameron Sutton, James Pierre, Antoine Brooks Jr., and Arthur Maulet. I don’t know that we would even consider Maulet a lock, and both Brooks and Maulet could also factor into the conversation at safety.
After those five, you have Layne, Acy, Gilbert, Brown, and Denmark. Out of those five, Denmark has by far been the most significant contributor in training camp so far. But, again, there’s a lot of camp left.