Six Steelers Defensive Players On The Bubble To Keep Your Eyes On Against Giants

The Pittsburgh Steelers will take on the New York Giants Saturday night in their preseason opener and there are several defensive players still on the roster bubble. Here is a look at six players on that bubble, that in my opinion, have the most to gain or lose.

DaMon Cromartie-Smith – According to several members of the media that cover the team, Cromartie-Smith is having a solid cap. That\’s a good thing for him as he is no longer eligible for the practice squad. There is a good chance the Steelers could keep five safeties and five cornerbacks this year because of the versatility that Robert Golden and rookie Shamarko Thomas possess, so the Texas-El Paso product can inch himself inside the bubble with a strong preseason. Don\’t be surprised if Cromartie-Smith is the first safety off the bench once the starters exit the game.

Marshall McFadden – McFadden figures to be in the running for a backup linebacker spot and he needs to pick up Saturday night right where he left off last offseason. McFadden should be a lot more comfortable with the defense now and he very well could be beside Stevenson Sylvester when the second team defense takes the field. While both Kion Wilson and rookie Vince Williams should still be considered candidates, I view McFadden as the leader in the clubhouse right now.

Josh Victorian – Being as several cornerbacks will be down Saturday night with injuries, Victorian should see a lot of playing time in the first half and perhaps even into the second half. Nobody has more to gain over the course of the next few weeks, so it is up to him to show he can be the fifth cornerback on the roster. Making a few plays on special teams certainly won\’t hurt his cause.

Adrian Robinson – Last year, Robinson waltzed right onto the 53 man roster as an undrafted free agent, but this year that spot is far from guaranteed. Another undrafted free agent, Alan Baxter, might very well have him in his sights after a strong start in training camp, so Robinson needs to show that he can not only drop in coverage, but sack the quarterback instead of just pressuring like he did last preseason.

Hebron Fangupo – Fangupo might very well be the first nose tackle in the game Saturday night once Steve McLendon exits. That is of course if defensive end Al Woods doesn\’t get time there first. Fangupo appears to be having an uneven training camp so far and he is reportedly frustrating defensive line coach John Mitchell in the process. There is no guarantee the Steelers will carry six defensive linemen on the 53 man roster, especially if they think Woods can play nose tackle, so Fangupo has a lot to prove over the course of the preseason.

Alameda Ta\’amu – Ta\’amu, who is fresh off the PUP list after arriving to training camp with an injured hamstring, was listed behind Fangupo on the latest depth chart, so he has some missed time and ground to make up over the course of the next several weeks. His first week of practice wasn\’t the best, according to Craig Wolfley, so watch his hand use closely during this game. Ta\’amu did, however, show up to Latrobe in much better shape, but it\’s time for him to show at least a little development Saturday night.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Chris92021

    Out of all the guys listed, I think Fangupo is the only one with a real shot of making the team. Victorian I think will be on the roster for a few more weeks because the injuries at CB but he showed last regular season he’s in way over his head.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Really? I think every single one of them has a strong chance to make the team. In fact, I think at least half of them will make the team. Marshall McFadden has an excellent chance, and either Victorian or Cromartie-Smith will be the 10th DB depending on the health of Terry Hawthorne, who has yet to practice at all and could very well be headed for the practice squad, and DeMarcus Van Dyke, whose injury appears to be serious enough to put his chances of making the team in significant jeopardy. I really see no way that the team doesn’t take one of those nose tackles. I can’t remember the team ever carrying just 5 defensive linemen to start the season, and I don’t see Brian Arnfelt or Nick Williams as a better 6th than Fangupo or Ta’amu.

    Adrian Robinson was on the team last year, so you have to figure that he at least has a chance of making the team.

  • steeltown

    Agreed. In my eyes the only way M.McFadden doesn’t make the cut is if (god forbid) he goes down with serious injury. Also agree that DCSmith and/or Victorian have a strong chance.

    The Ta’amu vs Fang battle is an interesting one.. in the end they’ll keep one of these guys, which one is up to them.

    Bring on the Preseason!

  • hergieburbur

    I agree on Victorian, but they like him. DCS though has more flexibilty. Ta’amu or Fangupo, one will make it. McFadden will make it barring injury. Robinson needs to beat out Baxter and show he isn’t one dimensional, but anyone on the list has a real shot at making it at this point.

  • Chris92021

    Steelers will probably carry 5 CBs and 4 safeties: Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen, William Gay, Curtis Brown, and probably Terry Hawthorne over Victorian since Victorian would likely clear waivers and go on the PS.

    the 4 safeties: Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Robert Golden, and Shamarko Thomas. DCS is probably going to be the odd man out unless injuries occur in the next few weeks.

    Steelers will probably carry 9 LBs: Woodley, Jones, Worilds, Foote, Timmons, Sylvester, Carter, Vince Williams, and either Baxter or Robinson. I am going to bet on Baxter right now. McFadden has a shot but he better play really well in the preseason. We will see how it all shakes out after tomorrow’s game.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Can you recall a time that they’ve only carried 9 defensive backs? I can’t think of a year in recent memory. In fact they’ve been carrying 11 lately.

    So you think they carry 9 DBs, 9 LBs, and 5 DL? That’s only 23 defensive players. Do you have them taking 27 offensive players this year?

    McFadden’s been playing second team all year, so I don’t see why he wouldn’t be a favorite for a spot right now. Vince Williams right now looks like he’ll either have to earn the 9th LB spot on special teams or be on the practice squad. I don’t see him as ahead of McFadden in the team’s eyes just because he was drafted.

  • Chris92021

    Sorry, 7 DL: McLendon, Hood, Heyward, Keisel, Nick Williams, Al Woods, and Fangupo.

    9 DBs, 9 LBs, 7 DL = 25
    3 QBs, 5 RBs (including Will Johnson), 5 WRs, 3 TEs, 9 OL = 25
    1 kicker, 1 punter, 1 long snapper….total 53.

    I think McFadden will be the odd man out when it’s all said and done. Given that Vince Williams is much younger and the Steelers already know about McFadden, unless McFadden really plays well and Williams either does nothing or gets injured, McFadden will be among the last cuts.

    You are right about the DBs; last season the Steelers finished with 10 total DBs.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I agree with the statement above that nobody has more to gain right now than Josh Victorian. Every once in a while the stars just align for a certain player, and this is one of those times. If Josh wants an NFL career he needs to take advantage and not just play well athletically, but have all of his mental playbook cues down pat. I hope he does.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Ah, I see, that makes more sense. I have to ask though, are you confusing McFadden with somebody else? He’s only in his second year in the league. He is 3 years and a couple months older than Williams though, you’re right about that.

    Honestly, right now I think both of them make the roster, because I think they really like McFadden and I think Williams is going to be a bigger contributor on special teams than Robinson or Baxter. I think those two might be battling for a practice squad spot if Williams outplays them in teams.

  • Chris92021

    Personally, I think the Steelers would be better off with 8 LBs and 10 DBs. If DCS plays well in preseason, I think he would make the team over McFadden…BTW I don’t have any vendetta against McFadden! I am all for any player who could help the Steelers win games. I think Williams has a bit more upside and the unknown potential is greater than what we have in McFadden.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Honestly, I think they carry 6 DL, 9 LBs, and 10 DBs as it stands right now. I think Nick Williams will be fighting Brian Arnfelt for a spot on the practice squad, although I think he will win that fight, because the team knew going in that he would be a project, so you can hardly penalize him when it turns out he is one. I also think DC-S makes it because both Golden and Thomas can play nickel, making corner depth less of a concern.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    The stars have aligned for him 2 years in a row! I like the kid and hope he excels and from what I have heard he has done well with the added reps. In the 2 minute drill they said he had Sanders on lock down.