The Pittsburgh Steelers are resting and relaxing following their first three days of training camp practice, so now is a good time to review in our heads everything that\’s been reported over the course of the first three practices as it relates to the final 53 man roster and practice squad. We have already talked about what we think we know in regard to the offense, so here now are my thoughts on the defensive players as we wait for practice to resume on Wednesday.
Curtis Brown – I\’ve had Brown as a roster lock for quite a while, but I know several of you have disagreed with that thought. With both DeMarcus Van Dyke and Terry Hawthorne now sidelined for an unknown amount of time in training camp with injuries, Brown\’s grip on a roster spot is about as tight as it gets.
DeMarcus Van Dyke – The last thing that Van Dyke needed is to miss an extensive amount of time at the start of training camp with a hamstring injury. Remember, the former third-round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders didn\’t arrive in Pittsburgh last year until the start of the regular season, so as a result he did not participate in training camp. Missing a good portion of training camp this year, as well as any preseason games, will move him further and further outside the roster bubble. The real winner with both Van Dyke and Hawthorne down is Josh Victorian and you have to think right now that it is his roster spot to lose.
Al Woods – Woods made the roster last year as a sixth defensive lineman and this year he will make as the fifth. The Steelers are trying to make him more versatile by working him at nose tackle in addition to defensive end and he is just too valuable not to be on the team when you look at depth of the players up front. The only thing we don\’t know at this point is who the sixth defensive lineman will be.
Marshall McFadden – McFadden is going to make himself hard to cut during training camp and after the first few days of training camp he is turning a few heads. Depending on how the final roster numbers shake out at the inside linebacker position, the Steelers will be keeping either four or five inside players. Being as Vince Williams was a sixth-round draft pick, he will need to make the team as a solid special teams player as there is no way the Steelers want him seeing time on defense as a rookie. Being as Stevenson Sylvester has the only real experience of the three, I am really starting to think that both he and McFadden will make the roster with Williams perhaps heading to the practice squad.
DaMon Cromartie-Smith – Cromartie-Smith is the John Malecki of the defense. How so? It\’s a do or die year for him as he no longer has practice quad eligibility. Being as the Steelers might have a hard time finding a sixth cornerback to keep on the 53 man roster, and being as second-year safety Robert Golden can play cornerback in a pinch, the team might be best served fortifying the safety position, as well as special teams, by keeping an extra safety in lieu of an extra corner back. I feel I may have underrated Cromartie-Smith, who appears to be off to a nice start in training camp.