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Three Position Battles to Watch Going into Mini and Training Camps

Steeler Nation

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Earlier this offseason, I wrote about some position battles to watch for that could be influenced by the Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 Draft. Now that it has come and gone, some of those position battles remain, some more specific, and some have changed dynamically.

The Steelers addressed their needs: a bell-cow running back, new offensive linemen, tight end, and even addressed some defensive pieces late in the draft and UDFA period. In my previous brief look, I zeroed in on three areas in general: inside linebacker, cornerback, and offensive line. Since then, the Steelers have made some depth signings, re-signings (yay Vince Williams!!!), and draft selections. We will take another brief look at the top three positions to keep a close eye on as mandatory mini and training camps approach!



Credit: Pittsburgh-Tribune Review

Credit: Pittsburgh-Tribune Review

Slot corner​


This is probably the most intriguing spot. With Cameron Sutton penciled in on the outside—an area he expects to play more steadily in—the big question is who will be the nickel (and even dime) man? The Steelers drafted Tre Norwood, retained Antoine Brooks, and signed Shakur Brown as an Undrafted Free Agent.

Brooks got his feet wet *a little* bit last year—being used in the slot a few times and as a box safety. Tre Norwood and Shakur Brown both are versatile pieces—Norwood with slot and safety experience, Brown with the inside, outside experience. I personally would like to see Shakur Brown win this competition. His scouting report describes him as a guy who plays like an angry hornet; his play on the field confirms this. Nonetheless, these three will have plenty of opportunities to win this battle.






Credit: Pennlive.com

Credit: Pennlive.com

Inside linebacker​


This position remains one of the intriguing aspects I’m watching—and it is still in sub-packages as well. Not only did the Steelers bring back Vince Williams for one more year, but Robert Spillane and Marcus Allen were also retained, and the Steelers drafted Buddy Johnson—an athletic, hard-hitting linebacker out of Texas A&M.

All of the guys mentioned will certainly be battling for playing time alongside the only lock at ILB: Devin Bush. While I expect Williams or Spillane to start in base packages, the sub-packages will be open for depth charting!






Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Wide receiver pecking order​


This may surprise some, but it shouldn’t. The offensive line has an idea of who will be starting where. Running back, quarterback, and tight end have limited significant competitions… but the Steelers have 3 to 4 starter capable receivers at worst. I don’t think there will even be a consistent weapon through all 16 games—Matt Canada likes to use all of his resources at his disposal.

The question will be, who will separate themselves into “the guy.” I know we all want to say it’s JuJu Smith-Schuster, but he’s here on a one-year deal and figures to be getting his money in the slot in this offense. James Washington is a good option on the field as well—he’s consistent and has shown to be reliable. For me, it will come down to Chase Claypool or Diontae Johnson as “the guy.” Despite his drops, Johnson is continuing his rise and Claypool will also continue to rise in production. Time will tell what the offense cooks up and the pecking order for these 4 guys.



What are your top three battles to watch in camp?

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Drink IRON City

Contributor whining about a tag
Nice write up Jobe and thank you


I still think there is a battle for LT that will be taking place. I hope Chukes isn't handed it due to his "vet" status as Tomlin is known for.. Not taking anything away from Chukes but I still think Moore is going to give him a run and I hope the better of the two actually start. Some have blown LT off as not being that important where as it's the corner stone so to speak of the OL.

Looking forward to all camp battles but this one I'm hoping to keep in view.




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slashsteel

Well-known member
A lot of training battles with plenty of interest: no need to sharpen the pencil just yet.

Green VS Finney for the start at C - we can't look at O-line as penciled in. Even the O-linemen know there is plenty of competition there and the potential for a final cut LT floating in as well. LT and C those two positions will be looked at hard even going into the season. I won't pencil Green in for the start anymore than I could pencil in Finney to finish the season as a starter even if he was out of the gates.

Pat VS Ebron in certain packages. Even if it isn't a battle to start make no mistake about it Pat will be nipping on Ebron's heels for playing time. Especially with his blocking ability factoring in.

OLB depth - For me this is more interesting than the crowd at ILBer. You have Marsh VS Roche VS ? If we are seeing Marsh at anything other than special teams the unit is in big trouble. Roche looks promising but if we are wishing in one hand and shitting in the other......... Another body at the position is needed a veteran presence. They are a injury away from uhoh.

CBs - or the lack there of. Thing is we shouldn't pencil in Sutton on the outside because they still might move him around and often. Which furthers the need for a corner as I am not in the Layne can handle it camp. Pierre is a nice story to this point but I will not pretend to know how that story unfolds. We might have already seen the best of what he has to offer. For me this is the most worrisome positional group. Two men left and it wasn't addressed adequately in free agency or the draft. Hopefully final cuts or free agent pool brings one in.
 
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SteelerSask

Well-known member
Well written. If Spillane can't win the position its a problem. There are a couple on here saying he played as well in a small sample then Bush. They need him to be clear starting worthy. That would make up some for Highsmith vs. Dupree in the linebacking corps. I agree Pierre has potential. Not holding much hope on Layne either in the skill dept. or knucklehead citizen.
Punter will be battle. Hope the Harvin kid wins, but the buffet table might need expansion and his mechanics do look high school to me.
 

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Drink IRON City

Contributor whining about a tag
A lot of training battles with plenty of interest: no need to sharpen the pencil just yet.

Green VS Finney for the start at C - we can't look at O-line as penciled in. Even the O-linemen know there is plenty of competition there and the potential for a final cut LT floating in as well. LT and C those two positions will be looked at hard even going into the season. I won't pencil Green out for the start anymore than I could pencil in Finney to finish the season s a starter even if he was out of the gates.

Pat VS Ebron in certain packages. Even if it isn't a battle to start make no mistake about it Pat will be nipping on Erbon's heals for playing time. Especially with his blocking ability factoring in.

OLB depth - For me this is more interesting than the crowd at ILBer. You have Marsh VS Roche VS ? If we are seeing Marsh at anything other than special teams the unit is in big trouble. Roche looks promising but if we are wishing in one hand and shitting in the other......... Another body at the position is needed a veteran presence. They are a injury away from uhoh.

CBs - or the lack there of. Thing is we shouldn't pencil in Sutton on the outside because they still might move him around and often. Which furthers the need for a corner as I am not in the Layne can handle it camp. Pierre is a nice story to this point but I will not pretend to know how that story unfolds. We might have already seen the best of what he has to offer. For me this is the most worrisome positional group. Two men left and it wasn't addressed adequately in free agency or the draft. Hopefully final cuts or free agent pool brings one in.


EXCELLENT post and I value your analysis.

CBs is a current problem but I'm thinking Tombert brings in a scraper............



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Coach

Well-known member
What?! The real battle will be Berry vs. our Rookie pot bellied punter. Place yer bets, this one is 50/50! Consistency will win out.

Other important battle will be if Canada offense fits the NFL and Moore vs. any of our tackles one os slow, the other weak, Take your pick,

If Green can't beat out Finney, I think we blew picking a short statued short armed guard who hardly played at Center in college and left two really good ones on the board.
 

Litos

Well-known member
What?! The real battle will be Berry vs. our Rookie pot bellied punter. Place yer bets, this one is 50/50! Consistency will win out.

Other important battle will be if Canada offense fits the NFL and Moore vs. any of our tackles one os slow, the other weak, Take your pick,

If Green can't beat out Finney, I think we blew picking a short statued short armed guard who hardly played at Center in college and left two really good ones on the board.
Why do you say he is short armed? He has longer arms than pouncey. Don't know where you are getting your info but it's probably wrong.
 

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slashsteel

Well-known member
Why do you say he is short armed? He has longer arms than pouncey. Don't know where you are getting your info but it's probably wrong.
He probably read Walterfootball and it mentioned him being short for a G. Then he morphs it into him having short arms. In reality it is just another day of cooch coming up short on his analysis.
 

Drink IRON City

Contributor whining about a tag
He probably read Walterfootball and it mentioned him being short for a G. Then he morphs it into him having short arms. In reality it is just another day of cooch coming up short on his analysis.


Could also be a side affect of him always getting the short end of the stick.........................................



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