Every team in the NFL is faced with depth issues and the 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers certainly have their share of them. Below are four positions that the Steelers lack serious depth at as the team prepares to report to Latrobe for training camp later this week.
Inside Linebacker – For a second season in a row the Steelers do not have much in the way of experience behind starters Larry Foote and Lawrence Timmons at inside linebacker. Fortunately, both were able to stay healthy in 2012, so the depth wasn\’t an issue. As the team heads into training camp, fourth-year linebacker Stevenson Sylvester, who is in no way considered a lock to make the roster, has the most experience of the group of players fighting for spots on the roster. He has played all of 75 snaps on defense since being drafted and that includes the one snap that he played in 2012. Marshall McFadden and rookie Vince Williams are the other two players that are in the mix. Should either Foote or Timmons go down with an injury in 2013, one of these young players will have to be ready to fill some mighty big shoes.
Nose Tackle – The Steelers are now turning over the starting nose tackle job to Steve McLendon, but behind him on the depth chart sits two players in Alameda Ta\’amu and Hebron Fangupo, who are still trying to learn what it takes to play the position in the 3-4 defense. During the OTA sessions, defense end Al Woods received second team work at nose tackle, so that tells you what the coaching staff thinks about the depth of the position. Should McLendon go down, the Steelers need to hope that the currently unemployed Casey Hampton is available and that he has kept himself in good enough football shape to pick up where he left off last year.
Offensive Line – We know who the top six offensive linemen will be on the roster, but beyond that it is still up in the air as to who the other two or three backups will be. Tackle Guy Whimper has experience, but most of that experience includes allowing sacks. A few of the undrafted players are exciting to talk about right now, but until they put the pads on, we can only speculate as to how the position battles will pan out. The Steelers have had their share of injuries on the offensive line over the last several years and it is almost a guarantee that all five starters won\’t play every snap in 2013.
Safety – The Steelers no longer have veteran Will Allen to fall back on as he is now with the Dallas Cowboys. While the future looks promising for both Shamarko Thomas and Robert Golden, it would be foolish to expect either of them to play at the same level of both Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark in 2013.