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.