The Pittsburgh Steelers will begin training camp at the end of the month, and we can finally see the final roster come together.
Although any of us can predict about 90 percent of the roster, there are always guys who come out of nowhere and earn a roster spot.
Here are six players who either have the possibility of doing just that, or guys who will just generally surprise in camp.
The Steelers’ running game was very inconsistent and disappointing in 2012 with Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman and Rashard Mendenhall as the primary backs. As a team, the Steelers finished 26th in the league in rushing with Dwyer leading the team with 623 yards.
In camp this year, the Steelers have Le’Veon Bell, Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, Baron Batch, LaRod Stephens-Howling and Curtis McNeal.
Although there has been criticism about Dwyer, I thought he did a pretty good job in 2012 and will come into camp ready to fight for a spot. We all know Redman is ready to fight for the starting job and Stephens-Howling is going to give the team a nice option on third downs.
Le’Veon Bell was drafted to eventually be the starting running back, and he should win the job out of camp.
The entire position is going to be fun to watch in camp and the Steelers’ running game should be much improved in 2013.
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Adrian Robinson showed enough potential to the team in last year’s preseason to warrant it keeping him on the roster for the entire season.
This year Robinson will have to prove he has made some kind of development in the other areas of his game. He already flashed the potential to be a pass-rushing threat; now he needs to show he can hold up against the run and possibly contribute on special teams.
I don’t think the team would let him take up a roster spot for an entire season if it didn’t think Robinson would even compete for a roster spot in 2013.
Though the Steelers drafted Jarvis Jones in the first round, they will probably lose Jason Worilds to free agency next offseason, and they need depth at the position.
The Steelers drafted Shamarko Thomas this year in the draft to be the future at the safety position, and everyone has seemed to have forgotten all about Robert Golden.
Golden made the roster as an undrafted free agent, and though he didn’t exactly stand out in his limited playing time last season, he still got valuable experience.
There really isn’t any reason that Golden doesn’t make the roster again this season. He should get people’s attention in camp again.
Though he is under the radar now, the Steelers could have the future at both safety spots already on the roster with Golden and Thomas.
A first-round pick doesn’t normally surprise people, but I really think Jarvis Jones is going to come in and show why he was the Steelers’ top pick.
Will he win the starting job? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean he can’t show off his pass-rushing ability.
Even if Jason Worilds has a really good 2013 season, I see Jones having a major impact and being used basically to just rush the quarterback.
Once training camp starts, Jones will immediately show that ability and show why he’ll most likely be the starter in 2014.
A lot of people forget that David Johnson and Will Johnson were in a heated competition in training camp last year before David tore his ACL and was lost for the season.
With the injury to Heath Miller, the Steelers may decide to keep an extra tight end on the roster, and Johnson would definitely help the team as a blocker.
David Paulson surprised and made the roster as a rookie in 2012. He will need to show some development to continue to retain that roster spot.
If Johnson is completely healthy, his blocking ability has a chance to push him past Paulson if he struggles in camp this year.
The Steelers' top four wide receivers are set right now with Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery and Markus Wheaton.
Behind those four, however, the team has the 35-year-old Plaxico Burress and then a group of young guys fighting for a spot.
I’m still not certain Burress is a lock to make the roster, but even if he is, the team could keep six receivers on the roster.
David Gilreath got some playing time in 2012, and his biggest advantage is his ability to return kicks. The Steelers are in need of a kick and punt returner and Gilreath will have a huge opportunity to become that guy for the team.