6 Dark Horse Candidates to Make the Pittsburgh Steelers Final 53-Man Roster
Training Camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers opens up later this month when players report on Friday, July 26.
Like every team in the NFL, the Steelers have many questions that need to be answered and we will see which players take advantage of their opportunities.
Here are six players who have not been talked about much but have real shots to make the Steelers’ 53-man roster.
Camp date from Steelers.com
Guy Whimper OT
Guy Whimper has been talked about a lot since the Steelers signed him this offseason, but not for any good reasons.
Whimper was signed because the team was unable to re-sign Max Starks, and they wanted a veteran presence on the offensive line in camp. Another big factor that Whimper had going for him was the fact that he was cheap.
In a normal situation, I wouldn’t think Whimper would have any shot at making the roster, but the Steelers have absolutely no depth at tackle.
That being said, there is still a very good chance that the Steelers will decide to go with only Kelvin Beachum and Ramon Foster as emergency tackles. That would open up chances for the young interior linemen in camp vying for a roster spot.
John Malecki G
There is going to be a huge competition on the entire offensive line since Kelvin Beachum is basically the only backup at every position right now.
Malecki can play both guard and center, and his biggest competition at this point is Mike Golic Jr., Nik Embernate and Joe Madsen.
Golic Jr. and Embernate have gotten pretty much all the talk going into camp because of name and their potential, though I would put Malecki ahead of both at least until camp gets under way.
Another thing going for Malecki is the fact that Golic Jr. and Embernate can be stashed on the practice squad to start their careers.
Josh Victorian CB
The Steelers are pretty set at cornerback for the 2013 season, as long as everyone stays healthy with Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen and William Gay as the starters.
Behind those three, though, there are nothing but question marks with a competition between Curtis Brown, Josh Victorian, Terry Hawthorne, DeMarcus Van Dyke and Isaiah Green for probably a max of two spots.
When you consider that Hawthorne is most likely a lock to make the team that leaves only one spot between four guys to fight for. Right now I would put the order as Brown, Victorian, Van Dyke and Green before camp begins.
I truly believe this could be Brown’s last shot to show some kind of improvement and become more than just a good special teams player.
Victorian has the best shot out of all of them in my opinion to overtake Brown because of his coverage skills and the potential he showed last season and preseason.
David Johnson TE
Before David Johnson was lost for the 2012 season, he was in a battle with Will Johnson for the starting fullback position.
Now, Will Johnson is firmly planted as the starter and David Johnson will be fighting for a roster spot in 2013. The Steelers have nice depth at the tight end position with Heath Miller, David Paulson and Matt Spaeth, so normally I wouldn’t give Johnson a good chance.
Unfortunately, we all know Heath Miller is coming off his own knee injury and is uncertain to start the 2013 season.
The Steelers may decide to keep Johnson as a third tight end while Miller is out. He could definitely help the team out with his blocking.
David Gilreath WR
The Steelers have a good group of receivers in Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Markus Wheaton. The only problem is that behind them is basically Plaxico Burress and a bunch of younger guys.
Burress has size and experience on his side, but he is older, slower and contributes nothing to special teams.
The team will be looking for someone to step up both as a receiver and a kick returner in camp, and while undrafted rookie Reggie Dunn has gotten most of the attention, Gilreath has experience in that area.
Guys like Justin Brown, J.D. Woods and Reggie Dunn all have the ability to sit on the practice squad for a season too if the team wants. In my opinion that gives Gilreath an advantage to make it as a fifth or sixth receiver, depending on what they do with Burress.
Stevenson Sylvester LB
When Stevenson Sylvester was drafted, he was touted as a developmental guy and the future at middle linebacker when James Farrior retired.
As we can all see, though, Larry Foote is now the starter and Sylvester is more likely to be cut than get any playing time on defense.
Foote and Lawrence Timmons are locks to make the team as starters on the inside, and Vince Williams, in my opinion, will be the backup. That leaves Brian Rolle, Marshall McFadden and Sylvester fighting for probably one spot.
It certainly looks like Sylvester has already wasted his chance to prove he’s anything more than a special teams guy, but I wouldn’t be completely shocked if he ended up on the roster. Though I like Rolle and McFadden and give them the edge right now, there is a chance Sylvester will actually show up and perform well in camp.