We are now just a few days away from the start of training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers so we\’ll move on to talk about the outside linebacker training camp battle that will take place over the next several weeks. The Steelers drafted Jarvis Jones in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft with hopes that he will be the future at the right outside linebacker position. LaMarr Woodley and Jason Worilds are of course locks to make the roster, so the team will need at least one more outside linebacker, if not two, to round things out on the outside. You can comment on this battle below and make sure that you also vote in the attached poll.
Training Camp Battle Setup: The Steelers depth at the outside linebacker position is pretty shaky as Chris Carter is the only player on the roster other than Lawrence Timmons, that has played a regular season snap on the outside. Should the Steelers only keep five outside linebackers in total, then Carter will be battling second-year undrafted free agent Adrian Robinson for a spot.
Chris Carter – Carter had a perfect opportunity slip through his fingers last year. Due to James Harrison and Worilds not being fully healthy at the start of last season, the Steelers former fifth-round draft pick started the first three games of the 2012 season at right outside linebacker; however, he didn\’t show much of anything in those games.
In the season opener against the Denver Broncos, Carter registered only one tackle after a nine-yard gain, and he looked like he wasn\’t fully comfortable with the defense or his responsibilities. In his 104 defensive snaps played last season, the Steelers defense allowed 4.39 yards per rush and on the 13 runs to Carter\’s side during those 100 plus snaps, the Steelers defense surrendered 4.62 yards per carry.
After those first three games, Carter only saw one snap on defense at left outside linebacker and that snap came on the left side against the Washington Redskins on the final kneel down play of the game.
When he wasn\’t fighting hamstring problems, Carter did finally show a little promise on special teams as he registered four tackles in the eight games he was able to dress for.
In addition to having a hamstring problem for a second season in a row, Carter suffered an abdominal injury in November that resulted in him being placed on injured reserve.
Being as the Steelers seem somewhat set on the right side at linebacker heading into 2013, they will need someone to step up as a backup to Woodley on the left side. I expect that Carter will be given a chance during training camp and the preseason to show that he can be Woodley\’s backup. Carter needs to show a better understanding of the defense in his third season, as well as continuing to develop himself into solid special teams player
In addition to the above, Carter needs to show that he can stay injury free for a full season.
Adrian Robinson – Robinson turned a lot of heads last year during the preseason as he showed an ability to get after opposing quarterbacks during his limited playing time late in games. Although his technique wasn\’t great, he seems to be able to get off the ball quick as he beat several backup right tackles to the edge more than a few times when playing on the left side.
Despite making the Steelers 53 man roster out of training camp last year, Robinson did not play any snaps on defense during the regular season as he was limited to playing on special teams in 12 games. Unfortunately, he did not stick out as a terror on the coverage teams, and he ended the season without recording any tackles.
Robinson should have a much better understanding of the Steelers defense as he heads into his second training camp, and it will be fun to note his progress once the preseason games get underway. There were some reports during the offseason practices that the Temple product was receiving some reps on the right side, so that is worth notating as we head into the start of camp. The side that he lines up at during training camp and the preseason games will be important to monitor as it will really give us a good idea about not only his future, but where he is currently on the depth chart. Will he be ahead of Jones?
More than anything this year for Robinson at training camp, he needs to start becoming a complete linebacker while making more of an impact on special teams.
Prediction: The Steelers will more than likely keep nine linebackers on the 53 man roster this year out of training camp, so there is a pretty good chance that both Carter and Robinson make the team. The only real threat to both of these players might not be each other more than it might be inside linebacker Steven Sylvester. Should the Steelers decide to carry five inside linebackers instead of four, then Sylvester, who is trying to show he has position flexibility this year to play outside as well as the inside, could force one of these two off the roster. The Steelers have a lot of time as well as a draft pick invested in Carter, so I think he is a safe bet to make the roster, as long as he stays healthy. Robinson has to show a big jump in his second season, but in the end, I think he makes the roster as well.