2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Safeties

The Pittsburgh Steelers open training camp in Latrobe one month from today. As we continue to count down the days we will continue to look at the several roster battles that are shaping up at all of the positions.

Last week we had a look at the Steelers cornerback roster battles and now we move forward by taking a look at the safety position.

The Steelers have opened the last four seasons with 4 safeties on their 53 man roster and the only way that changes this year is if they decide to carry an extra one because of Ryan Clark not being able to play week 1 at Denver because of his sickle cell trait.

Roster locks right now for three of what could be five spots on the 53 man roster are of course Clark, Troy Polamalu and Ryan Mundy. Outside of those three players there are four more safeties currently listed on the 90 man roster following mini-camp. Those four players are Will Allen, Damon Cromartie-Smith, Myron Rolle and Robert Golden. Below is a look at those four safeties.

Will AllenMike Tomlin seems to have a soft spot for Allen, who played under the Steelers head coach when he was the defensive backs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Allen enters his third season with the Steelers, and his final year under contract, with a cap charge of just over $1.6 million. Allen is mostly regarded as a special teams player at this stage of his career as he has played just 46 snaps on defense since arriving in Pittsburgh. His lack of playing time is not surprising though as he sits fourth on the depth chart behind Polamalu, Clark and Mundy. As far as his special teams play goes, the 30 year old Allen registered 9 tackles last season. On the negative side, he was flagged 3 times in 2011. In 2010 he was also flagged 3 times on special teams with 9 tackles. The Steelers will only incur a dead money hit of $325,000 should they part ways with the veteran which would save the team $1.28 million in cap space minus displacement cost of whoever would be kept in his place. Right now he appears to be the front runner for the fourth safety spot on the roster, but that is only due to his seniority. He is the farthest thing from a lock right now and his saving grace might be tied to the fact that Clark will more than likely sit week 1 against the Denver Broncos.

Damon Cromartie-Smith – Cromartie-Smith is no stranger to the way things are run in Pittsburgh as he spent the entire 2010 season on the practice squad and the last quarter of the 2011 season on the active roster. The Texas-El Paso product saw action on special teams late last year and recorded 3 tackles to go along with 1 penalty. He will benefit greatly from a full off-season program and is a much cheaper alternative to Allen if he can gain the trust of defensive backs coach Carnell Lake and special teams coach Al Everest. He is a physical player that does not shy away from contact and should be a player to keep an eye on during the preseason as he figures to get quite a bit of playing time. This far out I really like his chances of making the 53 man roster.

Myron Rolle – Rolle is fully dedicated to making one final push at the NFL. He was originally drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the 6th round of the 2010 NFL draft after studying at Oxford University for the 2009–10 academic year on a Rhodes Scholarship. Rolle spent the entire 2010 NFL season on the Titans\’ practice squad and was back again in 2011 with the Titans during training camp, but he failed to make their 53 man roster and their practice squad. The Florida State product shouldn\’t have any issues learning the complexities of the Dick LeBeau defense so it will come down to his ability to execute and his ability to contribute on special teams. Rolle still has practice squad eligibility, so that is always an option should he not make the roster. The time spent away overseas ensured he would have a solid career after football, and this will likely be his last attempt to prove himself as NFL worthy.

Robert Golden – Golden was signed as an undrafted free agent after playing both cornerback and safety at Arizona. He was snubbed from the NFL combine and is likely best suited as a safety at the next level. During his college career Golden recorded 18 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles and 4 interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. He is not afraid of contact as evidence by his 183 career tackles, of which 131 where solos. Golden showed that he could cover quite a bit of ground at times in the Wildcats secondary and proved his ability to play special teams in addition. The switch from corner to safety his senior season makes him a real project for Lake. He really has an uphill battle ahead of him to make the 53 man roster and he must take advantage of every bit of playing time he gets during camp and the preseason.

In summation, there is one roster spot that should certainly be deemed as up for grabs when the team reports to Latrobe with the possibility of two depending on how they view the situation with Clark. Odds are that they will just carry four for the opening game, but I just wanted to include the Clark situation as a possible option. You just never know.

Allen in my opinion is anything but a lock at this point and I really like the chances of him being made expendable by Cromartie-Smith. Both Rolle and Golden really face uphill battles in my opinion and I see one of the two being retained on the practice squad. It is not out of the question that another safety body could be added to the mix by the time the team reports to Latrobe in the form of a veteran or another undrafted type.

Previous Training Camp Roster Battle Post
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Defensive Ends
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Wide Receivers
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Tight Ends
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Kickers
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Cornerbacks
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Running Backs
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Nose Tackles

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Steel Hurtin

    I hope they cut ties with Allen, that money could easily be put towards Wallace, and or other deserving players…8 – 9 tackles on special teams is not worth the price tag. Cro – Smith has some decent upside. I will keep a close eye on Rolle, it is hard not to root for him.

    Hopefully we will address the safety position early in next years draft, maybe a 2nd rd pick.

  • Lekraus

    i would like to know the physical stats of all 4 bubble safeties. height, weight, forty time, and 20 time to see what their burst is. i love this time of year almost as much as those wonderful February’s. well not really nothing compares to those wonderful February’s does it?

  • RIP

    Cromartie Smith will beat out all the others,, the guy’s a football player

  • NW86

    This is definitely an interesting battle…question: does Cromartie-Smith still have practice squad eligibility left?

    If so, I could see him kept on the 53 early in the season, then if Troy and Clark stay healthy the first few weeks and someone like Hampton, Starks, or Mendy is ready to come back, he could be moved back to the PS. If he isn’t eligible for that, I think he stays on the 53 all year.

  • Tim

    I like Allen as a defender and special teamer, I really do. But that money could be better spent in lots of ways. Unless we have two safeties down at the same time, we have zero use for him. I’m happy to part ways with him this year. I also like what I’ve seen from Cromartie-Smith.

  • DoctorNoah

    Rolle was so good in college. I think he could challenge Cromartie-Smith. I think Will Allen is kinda blah. And honestly, Mundy hasn’t shown all that much spark either.

  • SteelSpine

    Great details. We’re so shaky at safety depth but so is just about every team. Our shaky depth is result of not enough high draft picks to fill all developmental needs & the bomb-out of former safety Anthony Smith a few years ago.

    PghTribune recently had a (too-early but) VERY logical predicted draft next year as far as positions for Steelers & it bets we’ll draft a saftety in first round next draft. Thats based on we always draft in bottom 3rd (or bottom half) of 1st round & (tho other positions are picked over by then) that’s where good safeties last until.

    Steelers probly won’t Mundy when his contract ends after this season, & that’s right. The back of #29 chasing opponents into endzones on special teams in the past is why we knew he was still on the team. And his getting easily juked during so many special teams returns, indicated does not have the instincts of people who eventually become starters.

    Impressive that LeBeau has gotten by with anyone at safety. Best example is the bum Tyrone Carter off the street filled in many games at starting safety when Polamolu was out yet somehow we still won games with 5’9 Tyrone off the street. Note noone picked up Tyrone when Steelers cut him. That tells you what LeBeau can get-by with at safety & it’s why the current plan is to get by at backup safety this year with whatever scraps are the best in training camp out of the group DaveB listed here. Then it’s time to draft a safety high next year, as in 1st round.

  • SteelerDave

    Cro-Smith makes the team, Allen is cut and it is essentially a battle between Rolle and Golden for the practice squad. Tomlin may like Allen but economics forces the change and in my view Cro-Smith is a better, smarter player than Allen as well. Rolle has the least upside and Golden could develop into an undrafted gem or he could fail being unable to learn our safety system.

    I will be in total shock if we do not draft a safety in round one or two next season. Quite a bit of quality safeties will be entering the draft.

  • Ahmad

    I really hope DCS takes Allen’s spot on the roster. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from him in past preseason games and think he will make a great backup.

  • Ahmad

    Ugh don’t remind me of Tyrone Carter. He was the main reason why our 2009 season was terrible on defense. Oh and the Redskins picked him up when we let him go.

  • Jprankster2005

    I really would like to see Rolle make the team…… The 3 givens are Troy, Clark and Mundy the 4th if he only plays special teams they should take the savings and let a guy like Rolle or Cromartie Smith have the spot……. Seeing we need to save all the money we can to get a few players signed and more money saved for next season……. I think Rolle can do just as good as Allen….. If they bring one more for the first week, Which I highly doubt…. then maybe Both Smith and Rolle can make the team and allen get cut……

  • Jprankster2005

    I agree with drafting a safety in 1st or 2nd round….. I think Safety first and TE in 2nd… Those are the 2 positions that we will need to most upgrade next yr…..