Steelers Rookies Tasked With Turning Around Special Teams In 2013

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Steelers “true” rookies combined to play 966 snaps on either offense or defense and in 2011, that number came in at 1,398 snaps. It\’s a known fact that Steelers rookies on the defensive side of the ball are lucky to see any playing time during their first season, so because of that, the expectations that both linebacker Jarvis Jones and safety Shamarko Thomas will see more than 200 snaps of playing time each in 2013 must remain tempered.

Offensively, skill position rookies such as running back Le\’Veon Bell and wide receiver Marcus Wheaton could very well see snap numbers in excess of 500 depending on how quickly they pick up the offense.

The 2013 version of the Steelers will have a completely different look as several veterans are no longer with the team. The obvious area where the rookies can help the team in 2013 is on special teams, especially when you consider that two main contributors, safeties Will Allen and Ryan Mundy, have left via free agency during the offseason.

The Steelers special teams units produced only one thing in 2012, and that was penalties. As far as turnovers go, a recovery of a muffed punt by New York Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley in Week 2 was it.

Outside of their own kickoff returns, the Steelers special team units were less than spectacular in 2012, and new coordinator Danny Smith has been hired to fix that in 2013. Jones, Thomas, Vince Williams and perhaps even cornerback Terry Hawthorne, assuming he makes the roster, will all be expected to help turn those turnover numbers around this season.

Of the 105 times that the Steelers were flagged in 2012, 22 of them came on special teams with 8 of them being pinned on cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke and Stevenson Sylvester. That simply can\’t happen again in 2013.

According to Pro Football Focus, of the 72 special team tackles made in 2012, Curtis Brown, Cortez Allen, Brandon Johnson and Mundy combined to produce 41 of them. With two of those four players now gone and Allen not expected to play much on coverage teams because he will be a starter on defense, those numbers must be replaced by other backups.

Which rookie, in your opinion, will contribute the most on special teams in 2013?

  • Josh

    With absolutely no expertise on this subject, I’ll go with Shamarko. Only 6 more weeks to debate this (yay?).

  • steeltown

    Im going with Vince Williams

    Our special teams coverage has the potential to be ferocious, Curtis Brown, W.Gay, Vince Williams, Jarvis Jones, Shamarko Thomas, R.Golden, (possibly Hawthorne and M.Mcfadden) all these guys are pretty sound tacklers, hopefully Coach Smith can mentally prepare these guys and stifle the mistakes, because the athletic ability is there

  • CW

    If DVD can get the mental part of the special teams game down and avoid the penalties he could be a phenomenal Special Teams player.

    Otherwise I’d say Shamarko Thomas and McFadden have the best shot at being leading special teams tacklers.

  • steeltown

    I agree about Van Dyke, I wouldn’t be upset to see him make the roster as #6 (if we keep 6CBs) and be a special teams gunner, then also stash Victorian on the PS like last season. The reason I would keep 6CB and another on the PS is because we still don’t know if C.Brown will pan out as well as Hawthorne being a rookie

  • Jacob Dixon

    I think Terry Hawthorne will make the team the cornerbacks I think that will make the team are Ike Taylor, Cortez Allan, William Gay, Curtis Brown, Terry Hawthorne and the last spot will be Josh Victorian or DeMarcus Van dyke depending on training camp and preseason

  • dgh57

    I hope Danny Smith proves to be a good ST Coach as coaching goes a long way in how the ST players perform. I hope D. Smith can help cut down on the penalties aspect of the ST play! Would also help if Drew Butler could show some improvement this season with his punting!

    As for the Rookies, I could see Thomas, J.Jones, V. Williams, Hawthorne, Wheaton, and even N.Williams if he makes the team!

  • Jason

    I go with Williams as well. Special teams is about finding the ball and hitting somebody and everyone agrees he does that well.

  • Kevin Gobleck

    I have to go with Shamarko Thomas, I just think that his hard hitting ability might cause a few fumbles on ST this year

  • Dom

    Vince, Vince, Vince – He looks like he’s a wrecking ball, Should cause a few turnovers.

  • cencalsteeler

    Nice post. I was at the mnf game against the niners. What stood out most to me was how good their st play was. We always gave them a short field, and they pinned us back all night long. I don’t feel we lost that game with Ben playing hurt, we lost the game due to field position.

    Also, don’t have stats, but it sure seemed Mundy caused a lot of flags, too.

  • Eddy

    I’m going with Thomas too, I could envision him being a ST stud for 2-3 years before he starts seeing playing time on defense.

  • Ahmad

    Vince Williams is my pick. He seems to always have a nose for the football so I bet we will be seeing a lot of him during preseason.

  • VaDave

    We had a lot of turnover on special teams during the season last year. Injuries to special teamers, as well as special team player tab as replacement players for starters going down. Add to that, the disaster we had on our oline with injuries, which took significant practice time time away from special teams, as we were more concerned keeping our QB in one piece. Hopefully, if we can stay healthy ( man, this is a running theme this year), we should se a significant improvement.
    I have to agree with Thomas being the biggest impact player on STs.

  • steves

    I think Jarvis Jones will be a brawler and smoke somebody!

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Going with Curtis Brown and newcomer Vince Williams as my secondary choice.

  • CW

    Fully agree. The situation could get bad if Curtis Brown really doesn’t pan out, but the Steelers try to make things work with five CBs.

  • steeltown

    I think one of the main reasons they brought back Gay was because they are still uncertain about C.Brown. His days are certainly numbered, if Hawthorne makes the roster that’s more competition and from what I’ve heard Isaiah Green is impressing and the coaches AND we all know that the coaches are high on Victorian as well

    I think 6CB is a real possibility this season, we’ll most likely only carry 4 Safeties and also 4 RBs that opens two extra spots from last year… im thinking extra CB and TE (initially if Miller isn’t ready) or maybe an extra OL player if Miller is good to go

  • SteelersNick

    Neither are rookies but I am going with Curtis Brown and Stevenson Sylvester. It would be really nice if both of these players made an impact on the defense but odds are against it. Neither Brown nor Sylvester have done anything to make anyone believe that they will become NFL starters.