The way the offseason has gone, it would seem to be the case that the Pittsburgh Steelers will have a free-floating roster spot at the skill positions on offense by the time training camp and the preseason roll around.
While they have five reasonable tight ends, one would figure that they could just as easily get by with three, as they typically do. They chose to carry four last season, but that largely had to do with injuries at the position, and the bottom of the depth chart ultimately earning their keep by contributing on special teams.
The wide receiver position seems fairly wide open as well. One would assume that there are four reasonably safe locks here, with Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore, and fourth-round rookie Martavis Bryant.
Behind them are a smorgasbord of easily expendable players, headlined by free agent Darrius Heyward-Bey, Derek Moye, and Justin Brown. The three could be battling for just one roster spot—or perhaps none—when all is said and done.
Then we have the running back position. The clear-cut starter is second-year back Le’Veon Bell, and behind him is his new partner, free agent signing LeGarrette Blount. When he signed, Blount said that head coach Mike Tomlin believed the Steelers could do with those two what other teams did with three backs.
The Steelers added the multi-positional Dri Archer during the draft, who will serve as a flex running back slash wide receiver in the offense.
In the end, this might just be a long-winded way of saying that a player such as running back Alvester Alexander has a shot of locking up a roster spot this year.
Alexander came to the team late in the process last offseason when the Steelers signed him to replace Curtis McNeal, who as an undrafted free agent wasn’t cutting it. He was originally an undrafted free agent in 2012 and bounced around multiple teams, but he stuck around on the Steelers’ practice squad for the entire duration of the 2013 season.
He seemed to impress the coaching staff, as evidenced by the fact that he lasted on the practice squad for the full season, and he represented himself fairly well when he got a chance to play during the preseason, often behind spotty offensive lines.
While not necessarily an accomplished receiver in college, he showed a disposition for pass protection during training camp, and with his 4.4 speed, he could potentially offer the Steelers a skill set at running back that the Steelers lack with the bigger backs in Bell and Blount and the slight speedster Archer.
With the Steelers having chosen not to re-sign Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, LaRod Stephens-Howling, or Felix Jones, they may well have an open roster spot at the running back position, and Alexander would likely have the driver’s seat at the moment.