Will Adrian Robinson Push Chris Carter For A Roster Spot?

Cracking the Pittsburgh Steelers 53 man roster out of training camp as an undrafted linebacker this year seems to be a very daunting task, as there just doesn\’t seem to be a spot for one to do so. When you look at the locks on the roster, you definitely see why. Baring injury, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Larry Foote, Jason Worilds, Stevenson Sylvester and rookie Sean Spence all will be on the 53 man roster and you have to think that Chris Carter, the fifth round pick from last year, also has an inside track on a roster spot as well.

Over the last three seasons the Steelers have kept, 8, 9 and 8 linebackers on the roster respectively entering the first week of the regular season, so you can see how big of an uphill battle the young linebackers face. Keep in mind that the Steelers will likely need to carry 5 safeties of the 53 man roster for week 1, as opposed to the normal 4, as Ryan Clark is surely to miss the opening game in Denver because of his sickle cell trait. In addition, 3 nose tackles on the 53 man roster is also a possibility depending on if Casey Hampton starts the season on the PUP list or not.

Despite the insurmountable odds, there have been two young undrafted linebackers that seem to have caught the eye of linebackers coach Keith Butler during the OTA sessions that wrapped up last week. Those two players are Adrian Robinson out of Temple and Brandon Hicks out of Florida. “I think I\’ve got a good group this year,” said Butler on Thursday. “Probably a little more impressive than normal with the guys we got.” Butler continued, “The kid from Temple, Adrian Robinson, has been doing a good job. The kid from Florida has been doing a good job. We\’ve got some players.”

Although Butler noted that both Robinson and Hicks have impressed thus far, he also cautioned that the big test will come when they put the pads on. “Here\’s the deal. They all look good in shorts,” said Butler. “It\’s almost like a beauty contest, but when the hitting starts, we\’ll find out about them when it starts.”

Robinson, who went undrafted this year, is likely the one of the two with the best shot of grabbing a roster spot, as he plays outside and could push Carter in training camp. Robinson was a defensive end at Temple, and the transition to standing up in the Steelers 3-4 system, is always a tough adjustment for the tweener types, especially being as reps will be scarce for him. For Robinson to make the 53 man roster, he will have to out perform Carter on special teams for starters and show that he has more long-term upside than Carter as an outside linebacker. Butler did note that Carter is coming along well on Thursday, so the Fresno State product will likely be tough to upset.

Hicks played both inside and outside while at Florida and went undrafted in 2011. He spent training camp last year with the Buffalo Bills, but did not stick. He figures to be getting his reps inside with the Steelers and seems to be the much longer shot of the two when you look at that players ahead of him on the depth chart, which includes Spence, who really has flashed thus far according to the reports. Although the praise from Butler is nice, a practice squad spot seems to be the best Hicks can hope for at this point.

The Steelers begin their mandatory mini-camp this week, and while it is great for young players to get mention from their position coach in June, they still have a long road ahead of them. That being said, Robinson could be a player to watch for when the Steelers get things started in Latrobe. Carter certainly has the inside track, at what figures to the 8th and final linebacker spot, but I would in no way consider him a lock right now. If Robinson makes the transition from shorts to pads well, he might at worst be looking at a spot on the Steelers practice squad.

  • Jprankster2005

    I don’t see it happening but if someone outplays them then I think they would pick that player to make the team….. I think we got a better chance of a OL guy that was drafted late or undrafted make the team then a LB….. But you never know….

  • Gruber

    I see Jason Worilds punk-ass gettin replaced….SOON.

  • Guest5

    What about the UDFA LB Lindsey or whatever his name was from Pitt.

  • Guest5

    Luckily you’re not running the team!

  • Cols714

    Not going to happen.

  • SteelersDepot

    Have heard his name a few times in reports, but Butler did not mention him on Thursday from what I saw.

  • Tim

    Why carry 5 safeties on the 53 man roster just because Clark is guarenteed to miss the first game? Why not stick with 4, deactivate Clark, and roll with 3 for the game? Polamalu and Mundy as the starters, and a backup (Cromartie-Smith, Allen, whoever). Do we really need two backup safeties for one game? I don’t know, maybe we do. Just seems like a silly reason to mess up our roster elsewhere.

  • Harold

    It’s nice to root for a team that typically only has one possible opening per position. When Chris Carter is your #8 LB, you’re doing pretty good.

    Having said that, I believe you have to look at bust or boom potential when it comes to OLB on the Pittsburgh Steelers. And (based on the limited film I’ve seen) I don’t see that in either of those two guys right now. Carter is very very quick off the edge. His only problem is lacking the strength to hold the point and gain the corner. If he has added strength this off season, he will win that spot.

  • SteelersDepot

    Would you rather carry a 9th linebacker who will be inactive, or a 5th safety that will be active and can contribute on special teams.

  • Billbuck88

    Brandon Lindsey has the bio of a solid practice squad guy. The coaching insanity that happened at Pitt may have hurt his development going into his final year.

    As with the other two — we will see what they do in camp.

  • Jprankster2005

    I think Lindsey will be a Practice Squad guy this yr. and maybe compete for a spot next yr…..

  • Timothy

    Against Manning? How about an extra corner?

  • SteelersDepot

    already going to be dressing 5 corners likely, makes no sense to dress six when you can dress a 4th safety instead.

  • Jprankster2005

    5 corners? Who do you think the 5th corner will be? Any suggestions? I like Rolle and hope he makes the team…..Not sure if they are putting him as safety or CB…… Mundy,Clark,Troy and Allen will be the safties but with Clark out who would be the 4th safety? Just curious who’s in the front running for 5th CB and 4th safety with Clark out

  • Guest5

    Cromartie-Smith would likely be the extra safety…he’s played well during his time on the roster and such and they seem to like him. As far as the 5th CB…could be the guy they drafted in the 7th round…who knows…I dont know the others on the roster off the top of my head. One guy I do wish would have a shot again is Donovan Warren…he played solid last preseason.

  • Tim

    Maybe there’s another roster spot somewhere else on the team they might want a bonus player. Lots of guys can play special teams, and if it was up to me Will Allen would be cut because of his salary, although I admit I don’t know how much we’d save by cutting him now. I can’t imagine any circumstances where we’re down to our 5th safety on defense in the first week of the season, so special teams is pretty much all we’re talking about, unless it’s a position that could see the field. Maybe even something on offense!

  • SteelSpine

    It does stink to have to activate a 5th safety, tho I understand the reason. Any safety who is no better than Mundy on a depth chart, must be a bum. Stinks knowing we have better players/depth at other positions who won’t have as much to play as the 5th safety. But that’s the luck of the draw, we have lousy depth at saftey, if any WR of ours had the sickle trait insteada our starting safety we’d be in much better shape (tho I’m not wishing sickle on anyone.) We just have to hope Rolle or Cromartie-Smith or an unknown shows surprising instincts for safety in preseason.