Five Backup Steelers Who Must Improve During Training Camp

As we head into the start of training camp, the 2013 version of the Pittsburgh Steelers certainly have their share of depth issues on both sides of the football. There are, however, five backup players who could possibly calm some of those depth fears, but each will need to show marked improvement over the course of the next several weeks in order to do so.

Here is a look at those five players whom the Steelers are expecting to make big jumps during training camp and the preseason.

Curtis Brown – The 2012 season was an awful one for Brown, the Steelers third-round draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and it all started in the first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. We all know that Brown is a hell of a special teams player, but with Keenan Lewis no longer in Pittsburgh, the Texas product figures to be the first cornerback off the bench in nickel situations if any of three cornerbacks ahead of him go down with an injury.

Brown talked during the offseason about how he\’s now a lot more comfortable with the defense, and you can bet that he will get his fair share of playing time during the preseason to prove it.

Brown has excellent coaches working with him as Rod Woodson, who is back with the Steelers this year as a coaching intern, will be assisting defensive backs coach Carnell Lake throughout training camp and the preseason.

David Paulson – It will be a while until we know whether or not tight end Heath Miller will be ready for the start of the season, but even if he his healthy enough to suit up; you would have to think that he might be eased into action initially. The Steelers brought back Matt Spaeth during the offseason, but he is better known for his blocking more so than his ability to threaten defenses in the passing game.

Paulson could very well be an integral part of the passing game if the coaches have trust in him and his run blocking must vastly improve based on what we observed last season. If the Steelers don\’t get solid play out of the tight end position to start the season, it will certainly hamper the offense\’s ability to move the football.

Chris Carter – Like Brown, Carter enters his third year in the league with some serious question marks surrounding him. Until rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones is deemed ready for action, Carter, the Steelers fifth-round pick in 2011, very well could be the first one off the bench should something happen to starters LaMarr Woodley or Jason Worilds.

After starting the first three games of the 2012 season at right outside linebacker, Carter figures to get the bulk of his work during training camp and the preseason on the left side behind Woodley. This is Carter\’s third training camp, so there is no reason for him not to know the defense inside and out, even though he has missed a good amount of time in the past with injuries.

Kelvin Beachum – Beachum actually represented himself pretty well as a starting right tackle during his rookie season after both Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams went down with injuries, but he still has his share of warts that need treatment. Last year during the preseason, Beachum didn\’t look like he would even make the 53 man roster as his play at both left tackle and left guard was pretty bad, and it included him leading the team in penalties with four of them being holding calls against him.

This year, Beachum is looking to be the ultimate swing offensive lineman, and that includes him possibly backing up Maurkice Pouncey at center. If indeed he is going to be the first offensive lineman off the bench in 2013, he will need to show that he can handle the interior spots on the offensive line during the preseason much like he handled the right tackle position last year.

Robert Golden – The Steelers drafted Shamarko Thomas this past April, but with two veteran safeties winding down their careers, the team hopes that Golden can become Thomas\’ future counterpart in the secondary.

Golden saw limited action during his rookie season thanks to all the injuries the team had in the secondary, and he didn\’t look comfortable in the 46 snaps that he played. In the loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Golden was beat for an easy touchdown catch on a seem route by Cowboys tight end Jason Witten and in total, he allowed three catches for 30 yards in that game.

This year during the preseason, Golden figures to get a lot of work with the second team, and he needs to show that he can be the first safety off the bench should something happen to Troy Polamalu or Ryan Clark, as Thomas figures to have a learning curve to navigate until he is ready for playing time.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Matthew Marczi

    Good list. Alameda Ta’amu needs to show improvement just as much as anybody though, unless Al Woods is really the backup nose tackle.

  • SteelersDepot

    If McLendon goes down, Casey will have to be called. No way Ta’amu can start.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Ta’amu must be looking pretty bad so far.

  • Mike.H

    a body who’s 6’3″ 346 and yet he’s been branded soft… does that mean he’s weak in the weight room and lacking proper techniques?

  • SteelersDepot

    He just has a lot to learn about the position and the defense

  • Matthew Marczi

    I guess it’s getting to that point where we can assume he won’t be signed, isn’t it…

  • Douglas Andrews

    Guess we were pretty spoiled having Casey H around. Although big snack wasnt ever going to be a workout warrior he always showed up on game day . Hopefully Ta’amu gets some time/reps during training camp to improve at the NT position.

  • steeltown

    35reps on the bench press, guy is strong, he is lacking in the technique dept and general knowledge of the Defense

  • steeltown

    I am looking for Ta’amu to make a jump this training camp. IMO I think a lot of people have written him off (unjustly because of his off field issue) but he has the size and strength to excel at the position. If he can just focus and get the technique down I don’t see why he cant be the #2 this season

  • steeltown

    I hope Ta’amu starts getting 2nd Team reps and first off the bench reps in preseason, how else can we gauge his ability, put him up against better competition. I still have hope for him

  • steeltown

    Paulson, Curtis Brown and Chris Caters are enigmas.. cant really gauge how good these guys can be. On the other hand I think Beachum and Golden will make huge strides this year in training camp and preseason. Its easy to see the coaches are already pretty confident with Beachum and they sure seem to see something in Golden as well.

  • Douglas Andrews

    I thought he had some good measurables come into the Steelers. We can only hope he is more focused and comfortable with the defense this year if he is going to make any type of impact. Right now we need depth at that NT position even though it’s mainly a two down position Ta’amu could help keep a fresh NT in during first and second down.

  • gene mann

    Beachum going to counted as the #1 guy off the bench not bad for a late round Draft pick.

  • LouPGH

    Paulson went in the 7th Round as well. His playing time may be more accurately attributed to necessity than skill (Heath going down; Saunders being an idiot), but I’d still put his pick in the “not bad” category.

  • LouPGH

    To my mind, Curtis Brown is the guy on this list who has the most to prove. Guys aren’t drafted in the Third Round to play special teams for the entirety of their rookie contracts, and he hasn’t looked very good in his (admittedly limited) playing time on defense. But more than that, we allowed Keenan Lewis to leave. You can’t expect everyone to progress as quickly as Cortez Allen, but Brown needs to step up. If he doesn’t, Terry Hawthorne (and maybe one or two guys I’m not thinking of) are waiting to make him expendable.

  • gene mann

    Paulson has some decent hands and will like to see him used more the pre season. I think he get the 3rd TE spot.

  • steeltown

    Agreed.. If Terry Hawthorne (or Van Dyke) show anything in camp, have any contribution early on (preseason) and ultimately impress and make the final roster then C.Brown is really on the chopping block after this season, especially with Willie Gay now signed through 2015… not to leave out Victorian and Isaiah Green who by all accounts have turned some heads

  • SteelerFanInPatsland

    I love Rod Woodson as much as the next Steeler fan, but, what makes him an excellent coach? He was let go after one season with Oakland and is an intern this year.

  • Shea Fahr

    FREE CASEY!!!

  • Shea Fahr

    You said Oakland right??

  • Matthew Marczi

    Well, for starters, Al Davis died, and his son pretty much gutted the team. They released every single cornerback on their roster from 2011, including Van Dyke, their third round pick that year. Not surprising their secondary coach went with him. I certainly wouldn’t say his firing was an indication of his abilities as a coach. Would I take him over Lake? No, but I definitely value his efforts as an assistant this training camp.

  • John Hinton

    I second this comment. He has so much potential.

  • charles

    Coaching staff is treating Beachum much the way they treated Aaron Smith in his first two years.
    Secondly, where is the learning curve for NT? I am not sure it was Casey, but others said he wasn’t the brightest player. He did, it seems, have a tremendous center of gravity meaning it was hard to push him where he did not want to go. A talent that may not be coachable.