Keith Butler Thinks Stevenson Sylvester Can Be A Good Third Inside Linebacker In 2013

We have talked quite a bit about of the lack of depth the Pittsburgh Steelers have at the inside linebacker position as they head into the 2013 season. David Todd of 970 ESPN Radio asked linebackers coach Keith Butler to give his thoughts on that depth when he talked to him on Saturday.

“Kion Wilson, Marshall McFadden, we got some young guys in there we\’re repping out, and we\’re seeing what they\’re going to do,” said Butler. “Give them a chance in preseason and see what they can do there. Scrimmaging a little bit more than we have in the past doing some live things will give us an idea of what we got, but there\’s some hope there. There\’s some guys in there that are going to compete a little bit and what we need to do is build depth right now.”

So did Butler forget about fourth-year linebacker Stevenson Sylvester? No, in fact, Butler seems to have him as being the first player off the bench right now.

“Stevenson Sylvester we think can be a good third for us right now,” he said.

Earlier in the offseason there was talk that Sylvester might be moving outside for good, but Butler made it clear on Saturday that he is being groomed to play all four linebacker spots in case of emergency.

“He\’s doing both,” Butler said about Sylvester. “Everybody was saying we\’re moving him outside, no; I\’m not moving him outside. He\’s doing both. It will help him if he can play all four positions. Usually in the season there comes a time when you\’re going to have to put a guy that plays inside and make him play outside, so we\’re preparing him for that.

“Lawrence [Timmons] has had to do that in the past. Lawrence can do it, but we want to try to keep Lawrence inside, because we think he\’s more productive inside, and so we\’re going to let Sly play a little outside too.”

Butler had a few good things to say about both Marshall McFadden and Kion Wilson as well, but it appears as though Sylvester\’s roster spot is pretty safe right now as long as he can stay healthy. Butler said way back during the draft that he talked to the Steelers former fifth-round draft pick following the 2012 season, and that he knows it is a make-or-break year for him. The team didn\’t restricted tender Sylvester during the offseason as they chose instead to sign him back to a one-year deal after he tested free agency without any luck.

Earlier in the offseason, I wrote about how the Utah product needed to be more position flexible in order for him to secure a spot on the roster, and it appears as though he is doing just that. Last year during the first preseason game, he played both inside and outside, but due to him injuring his knee the next week during practice, he wasn\’t able to play again for the remainder of the preseason.

This year, I now fully expect that we will again see him play both inside and at the left outside spot during the preseason. Hopefully, that winds up being for four games this year instead of just one.

  • TJimmy

    Good to know that they are satisfied with him being the backup. For now Tomlin is testing out the draft class and non-starters in live tackling drills.

    Perhaps he wants to get his rookie evaluations out of the way so he can start working with the starters sooner than last year.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Because of our lack of depth Sly seems to be in good shape for a roster spot. I see us opening up a lot of positions for best man with people like sly, beachum and golden being able to play many positions.

  • charles

    Don’t like the idea of multiple position. That philosoohy cost us Timmon’s talent one year. Didn’t work for Timmons or his replacement or the Steelers.

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    IF Stevenson is the answer, we have more problems that any one can imagine. year number 4 and has done jack squat .

  • Matthew Marczi

    It’s a good philosophy for backups, not so much for starters (with the exception of the offensive line, and safeties that can play corner, in my opinion). Actually it’s an essential philosophy for backups, although I will admit that it’s probably quite rare for a 3-4 team to have a “first LB off the bench” across the whole unit both inside and out. Still, I doubt he would be the first OLB off the bench. I’m sure Jones and Carter would disapprove of that.

  • Matthew Marczi

    When your starting inside linebackers don’t miss any snaps, there’s nothing for a backup to do. Remember, it’s a *good* thing when your backups don’t have to play.

  • BurgherinMD

    I think they were in good shape until Spence’s injury, which although they happen, I do not think anyone would have dreamt of its severity. I really hope Williams from Fla. St. turns out to be something. If not perhaps a B grade free agent after the season in the Keyaron Fox range (except without the ill-advised Super Bowl penalty) for depth and to challenge a mid-round draft pick next year to start.

  • dgh57

    Keith Butler is in a better position to know what we have in Sly than I am and he may be right but only in the now. There’s plenty of competition and 4 preseason games to be played so things can change. The final roster is the tell all story and I have a feeling it’s going to be different, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

  • woundedvet

    Butler has set the record straight by saying Sylvester is NOT moved to outside LB, & Sly does not need to excel at outside LB to make this team. The 3rd LB does not need to play outside LB. A player’s coach knows more than whatever any blogger might have written to the contrary.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Sly is an asset on ST for sure. It would be nice If he develops into a nice backup to give us some depth at ILB. Hopefully he turns the corner because then few snaps I saw him play it seemed like he gets eaten up in traffic. Maybe being able to read and react to plays alot quicker helps him get to the next step

  • Steve

    The Steelers used Timmons outside for betterment of the Team. It may have cost Timmons but for the team it was the best move.

  • walter mason

    He is being groomed as a backup not a starter. He is not the answer obviously.