By the time the Pittsburgh Steelers return to practice on Wednesday their training camp will be at the halfway point, so now is a perfect time for me to write about all the things that are going through my mind right now concerning the team. Here is part one of my thoughts and concerns.
Perhaps linebacker Stevenson Sylvester is more of a safe bet to make the final 53 man roster than I originally gave him credit for. In a recent interview with David Todd of 970 ESPN Radio, linebackers coach Keith Butler made it sound as if he is currently the backup inside to both Larry Foote and Lawrence Timmons right now and that the real battles going on in training camp are behind him. While Sylvester will continue to get a little work on the outside, inside linebacker is still his primary position. Right now, Sylvester just needs to make sure that he continues to stay healthy so that he can get a good deal of playing time during the preseason.
While it just might be an attempt to get Mike Adams some work at left tackle just in case Marcus Gilbert was to go down with an injury, several are starting to believe the Ohio State product just might stay on the left side for good. I stated early in the offseason that Adams should be on the left side, but had given up on that wish based on what occurred during the OTAs. We still have a full month to go until the regular season starts, however, so a lot can change between now and then. I can understand working Adams on the left every now and again during practice just in case, but should he start the first preseason game Saturday against the New York Giants on the left side; you would have to think he\'s the new leader in the clubhouse.
At the rate the cornerbacks are going down right now, the Steelers might have to start Ryan Steed and Buddy Jackson, two players who weren\'t with the team at the begging of training camp, against the Giants on Saturday. I\'m kidding of course, as at least Ike Taylor, William Gay and Josh Victorian are still on the field. Just to remind you, both Taylor and Gay have trained down in Florida with renown trainer Tom Shaw for several years now. Think there\'s anything to that as it relates to health? Yes, Cortez Allen has started training with Shaw as well, but much like Taylor\'s ankle injury late last season; I think Allen\'s injury might have been just one of those freak things as well. Victorian really sits in the drivers\' seat right now, and he\'ll have a golden opportunity Saturday night to show he belongs on the 53 man roster this year as opposed to the practice squad.
Can anybody tell me who the backup nose tackle is at the halfway point of training camp? Whatever your answer is, are you happy with it? Alameda Ta\'amu was finally removed from PUP on Monday, but unfortunately, he missed all the physical practices that have taken place so far. Hebron Fangupo is still learning the position just as Ta\'amu is. Is defensive end Al Woods a candidate? He played all of 30 snaps last year on defense. I think it is now easy to see why I have worried about this position over the course of the entire offseason. I\'m fine with Steve McLendon starting and am looking forward to it, but what happens if he goes down?
It sure is nice to hear that rookie wide receiver Justin Brown is having a good camp so far, but can he keep it up? If he does, can the Steelers really afford to keep six wide receivers on the 53 man roster? Hey, Ben Roethlisberger has wanted a tall wide receiver ever since Plaxico Burress left after his rookie season. Burress is of course back now, but he doesn\'t figure to see a lot of playing time in 2013, assuming of course those ahead of him stay healthy. If Brown can at least stay on the heels of Burress for the rest of the preseason, the veteran, Roethlisberger buddy and all, essentially becomes expendable. It\'s still way too early, but you can bet I will be watching Brown closely once the preseason starts.
I have barely scratched the surface with these, so now it\'s your turn to take time out and let us all know what is running through your mind at the halfway point of training camp.