Four Steelers Training Camp Battles On Defense To Watch

The Pittsburgh Steelers report to Latrobe for training camp on Friday and the team will take the field on Saturday. Here is a look at four key training camp battles that will take place over the coming weeks on the defensive side of the football.

Nick Williams versus Brian Arnfelt

If veteran defensive end Brett Keisel isn’t ultimately re-signed, Williams and Arnfelt will more than likely be battling for one spot on the final 53 man roster. Williams, the Steelers seventh-round draft pick last year, had his rookie season wiped out by a knee injury suffered late in training camp while Arnfelt, who was signed last year as an undrafted free agent spent most of 2013 on the practice squad before finally being promoted to the active roster late in the season. At worst, both players will likely be completing for a spot on the practice squad this year.

Hebron Fangupo versus Daniel McCullers

The odds are good that the Steelers will likely want to keep an extra nose tackle on their 53 man roster this year just as they did last season. While he didn’t see the field much in 2013, Fangupo was the No. 3 last season behind starter Steve McLendon and the versatile Al Woods. Woods is gone now, but has been replaced by Cam Thomas, who is penciled in right now to start at one defensive end spot. McCullers, one of two sixth-round draft picks this year, is just as raw as he is big. Fangupo, however, just turned 29 and doesn’t have much, if any, long-term upside.

Sean Spence versus Sean Spence

It might sound funny, but Spence is truly battling himself for a spot on the Steelers 53 man roster this year. The former third-round draft pick has missed the last two seasons after suffering a very serious knee injury during the final preseason game of his rookie season, but is now presumably healthy and ready to resume his career. While Spence managed to make it through all of the offseason practices without any issues, the true test as to whether or not he is still the player that he once was will take place once the pads go on. Should he be able to pick up where he left off in August of 2012, he’ll easily make the final 53 man roster. If he’s lost a step, however, it could result in him being out of football for good.

Shaquille Richardson versus Brice McCain versus Isaiah Green

If things play out like I think they will, the Steelers will only keep five true cornerbacks this year because of the position flexibility that safeties Shamarko Thomas and Robert Golden both have. Should that indeed be the case, Richardson, one of two fifth-round draft picks this year, must beat out the undersized McCain and the unproven Green for the fifth and final cornerback spot. One would think that Richardson has a huge advantage in this battle due to his size and long-term potential, but he has to prove it during the preseason. In addition, he needs to make his mark immediately on special teams.

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

    you’re right….some great battles listed and it’ll be interesting to see the team’s strategy between veterans and the youth movement. I was a bit surprised you didn’t list the #5 Wide Receiver battle.

  • Putter

    ha – ok – disregard. Re-read the title of the article. Dee – Fence!

  • srdan

    I love competition in camp. These are legit battles and the winners will contribute a lot. The spence one does sound funny, but youre right on the spot with the assessment.

  • Bill Sechrengost

    Yes, these will be very interesting camp battles to watch. Does anyone think Josh Mauro or Ethan Hemer have a chance to make the team on the DL? They are both big, tall DE’s who I liked in college, but still not sure that will translate to the NFL. I also will be interested to see how the ILB positions will shake out. Will Zumwalt be able to make the team? They just released Kion Wilson, so that is one less body on the inside.

  • 太阳

    Do not resign Keisel.. Yea hes good for maybe 4-5sacks but he got bullied on a lot of plays. He just isnt worth it, stay true to your path with the injection of speed and youth. Shaq needs to make the team because reading that we used another pick on a cb just to cut him sounds underwhelming. As for spence vs spence, that’s what it’s really about… There’s no doubt he still has the physical essentials cause you don’t just lose it. It’s really him vs fear, if he masters the fear and let’s go and plays ball, look the fxxk out. (Off topic but I feel the same about anderson silva as I do spence with the mental aspect of returning after an injury.) I hope McCullers pans out, got a good vibe about him.

  • dgh57

    It first depends on whether we resign Keisel but if not Mauro and Hemer may take the place of N. Williams and Arnfelt on the PS this year. They may not get a lot of chances so they would really have to turn heads this preseason to make the roster over Williams and Arnfelt.

    I think it depends more on if Zumwalt shows he can play OLB as things are crowed at ILB along with what he shows on Special Teams.

  • steeltown

    The anticipation… it’s driving me MAD

  • Steelers12328882

    Robert Golden sucks, in my opinion anyways. I’d rather keep 6 CBs and 4 Ss(keep Will Allen) and dump him. I’d like to hang onto Shaq, so I suppose it’d be a toss up between Golden, McCain and Green. By not mentioning Antwon Blake does that mean you consider him being a lock? I hope so.

  • 太阳

    Blake is a lock and golden got trucked by Cutler so he could fxxk right off

  • steeltown

    Yea Golden seems like nothing more than a special teamer to me, like Curtis Brown, he’s a liability in coverage

  • Shea Fahr

    It is finally that time again my friend. I agree with you. Let’s get this thing on!

  • Shea Fahr

    He might get 20 snaps if some people get injured but I agree with you, I would love to see him show enough to knock Fang out too.

  • dgh57

    I would rather have a guy with that capability on my roster as third string NT than not have him.

  • Shea Fahr

    Yes, he just needs to be taught how to throw that size around. I hope he sticks cause he is very Big.