The Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of depth concerns at numerous positions heading into the 2013 season, and that includes both the outside and inside linebacker spots. Linebackers coach Keith Butler was asked Sunday about the ongoing battles for roster spots, and if he has any more clarity now about the linebacker depth than he did a few weeks ago.
“No, no,” said Butler. “I\’m not going to see any clarity until we start. Who knows? We like where we\’re at right now, we\’ve got to make sure everybody\’s healthy and stuff like that, but we need to get to work and Jason [Worilds], he\’s got to get back on the field and so does Jarvis [Jones].
As far as the right outside linebacker spot goes, Butler was asked if Jason Worilds is currently the starter at the position and Butler, as you would expect, gave a response that he knew would keep his players on their toes.
“It\’s Jason\’s job right now,” Butler said. “Maybe it\’s a competition. It\’s always a competition between all of them. It\’s a competition for Woodley too, for all of them. For Larry Foote, it\’s a competition. Maybe, maybe Lawrence Timmons might not have a competition, but the rest of them do. We want to make it competitive and make sure everybody earns their position, and we\’re hungry a little bit.”
Over the course of the last week, the Steelers have included some live tackling during their practices, and that is the first time that has happened in quite a while. Butler was asked to give his thoughts on why it is needed this year as opposed to previous years.
“We feel like we need to because our youth,” he said. “We\’ve got to find out about our running backs; we\’ve got to find out who\’s going to play at linebacker, who\’s going to play in the secondary. We need to find out about our backup safeties, so there\’s a lot of questions we got to find out, and we can\’t wait until preseason to do it. We\’ve got to formulate a plan before then of what we got.”
So is Butler, a former linebacker himself who played 10 years in the league, in favor of all the physical action this year in training camp?
“I\’m in favor of this for a young football team,” Butler said. “I\’m in favor of this because we got to answer some questions, so it\’s not like we can afford to not do it. I think Mike [Tomlin] is right in saying we got to find out what we got.”
The Steelers will resume the process of finding out what they have when they return to the practice fields on Wednesday.