The Pittsburgh Steelers will need contributions from several of their young linebackers this upcoming season after losing yet another starter this past offseason in the form of James Harrison, who was released back in early March. Veteran inside linebacker Larry Foote, who just so happened to turn 33 on Wednesday, talked about the roles the young linebackers will have to fill in 2013 during a recent interview, and he highlighted special team contributions as being perhaps the most important area where those contributions will be needed.
“Jason Worilds, (Jarvis) Jones, and Chris Carter, we need guys to step up to fill those roles, not only on defense, but on special teams,” said Foote. “We lost two important guys last year over on special teams, so we need linebackers to dominate that unit. That\’s what we used to be known for. The last couple of years DBs have taken that role, but I think it\’s important that our young guys know we need to dominate that. Dominate special teams.”
The two defensive backs that the Steelers lost during free agency that played heavily on special teams the last few seasons are safeties Will Allen and Ryan Mundy. That means Chris Carter, Jarvis Jones, Adrian Robinson and perhaps even Stevenson Sylvester and Marshall McFadden, should either make the final 53 man roster, will have to pick up the slack on a unit that hasn\’t been overly great the last few years.
As Foote points out, the Steelers have long had a tradition of having their young linebackers make an impact early in their careers on special teams, but injuries to Carter, Worilds and Sylvester dating back to their respective rookie seasons has not allowed for that to happen.
As far as Sylvester goes, Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported on Wednesday that the former fifth-round draft pick had been moved outside, but Foote referred to Sylvester on Thursday as more of a hybrid guy who is still receiving snaps inside. This will be one thing to pay close attention to during training camp and the preseason, as position flexibility might be his only ticket to the 53 man roster out of training camp. That and his ability to stay healthy and be a special teams warrior.