On Monday, we took a look at cornerback Josh Victorian, who will be battling to make the Pittsburgh Steelers 53 man roster out of training camp this year and today we will look at cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, who figures to be competing against Victorian for that same roster spot.
Van Dyke, who was drafted in the third round of the 2011 draft by the Oakland Raiders, did not arrive in Pittsburgh until right before the 2012 season started as he was waived by the team that drafted him during their final roster cut down. Right after the Steelers signed him, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked about his newest player prior to the season opener against the Denver Broncos.
"We were interested in this young man when he came out in the draft in 2011," said Tomlin about Van Dyke. "Obviously, we ended up with Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen, but he was within that group and in that range from a grading standpoint. I was at his pro day. He’s got big-time upside, he’s an extremely fast guy. It was an opportunity for us to put a young cornerback in the mix and continue to work with him and develop his skill and see if maybe he can help us at some point."
Despite being new to the team, Van Dyke dressed for the Steelers season opener against the Broncos and played on special teams. He managed to get himself noticed on the Steelers second punt of that game, however, when he downed a Drew Butler punt at the Broncos one yard-line.
The following week against the New York Jets, Van Dyke again made his presence felt on special teams when he used his speed in the third quarter to race downfield on a punt that resulted in Jets return man Jeremy Kerley muffing the catch with him in his face and Steelers safety Ryan Mundy recovering the loose football. Little did we know it that time, that that would be pretty much it for Van Dyke\'s positive contributions for the remainder of the season.
Over the course of the next four games, Van Dyke became a liability on special teams as he racked up five penalties during that span. On four occasions he was flagged for holding and one other time he was flagged for running out of bounds while covering a punt. As a result of the penalties, Tomlin made an example out of Van Dyke as he chose to dress him only once over the course of the next six games.
If not for the late season injuries in the Steelers secondary, Van Dyke more than likely wouldn\'t have dressed for the remainder of the season. However, when starting cornerback Ike Taylor fractured his ankle in the Week 13 game against the Baltimore Ravens, Van Dyke found himself back in uniform playing on special teams the following week against the San Diego Chargers.
With both Taylor and Cortez Allen out injured the following week against the Dallas Cowboys, it looked as if Van Dyke might actually be in line for his first defensive snaps of the season, but a separated shoulder suffered covering the game\'s first punt resulted in him being out of the game and the remainder of the season as a result.
Van Dyke has long since had his injured shoulder surgically repaired and he will presumably will be ready for the upcoming OTA sessions. However, the incompetence that he showed last season on special teams combined with the Steelers bringing back William Gay during the offseason, and the drafting Illinois cornerback Terry Hawthorne just last month, will severely hamper his chances at making the 53 man roster this year out of training camp.
Should Van Dyke fail to make the final cut, his time in Pittsburgh will be up as he no longer has practice squad eligibly.