The Pittsburgh Steelers will kickoff their 2014 preseason Saturday night against the New York Giants and here are five players on the defensive side of the football that weren’t draft picks this year that we suggest keeping a close eye on during the game.
Sean Spence – How can the former third-round draft pick not get top billing in this post? You can put me in the camp of people that thought Spence would never play again once it was reported that he had damaged the peroneal nerve in his knee. It’s been a long road back for the Miami product, who very well could start Saturday night alongside Lawrence Timmons if rookie Ryan Shazier is held out because of his knee injury. This kid will more than likely be ready to jump right through his skin during the opening kickoff. I can’t wait to see if he still has that same quick first step and ability to move sideline to sideline. This is his night. He’s earned it.
Arthur Moats – It’s hard to really know what Moats can offer the Steelers as a 3-4 outside linebacker because we just have never seen him play the position much at the NFL level. He was a pass rushing defensive end in college, but good luck trying to find any of that James Madison tape. His measurables tell you that he probably should have been a 3-4 outside linebacker all along and that Buffalo Bills really tried to fit him in the wrong hole. Should Jarvis Jones sit this game out with an injured groin, Moats might just open the game opposite Jason Worilds. I’ve been waiting to see Moats ever since he was signed during the offseasaon.
Antwon Blake – From special teams ace to now the No. 4 cornerback on the Steelers roster? Count me as very excited to see the undersized Blake man one of the two outside spots against the Giants after the starters exit. Defensive backs coach Carnell Lake has talked highly about the former undrafted free agent all offseason and like Moats, there’s just not much film to watch of Blake outside of him covering kicks and punts. He’s reportedly had a decent training camp thus far.
Brian Arnfelt – It’s been a very quiet summer for the former undrafted free agent defensive end. Last preseason, Arnfelt showed enough to warrant him being signed to the practice squad and that’s really the last that we’ve seen of him. If the right bodies are held out Saturday night, Arnfelt very well could see time at right defensive end with the second-team defense. Defensive line coach John Mitchell has now had a full year with Arnfelt and hopefully it shows Saturday night.
Robert Golden – We know that Golden can play on special teams but has he finally learned the defense? He’s been around long enough now that he should really have a solid preseason ahead of him. We don’t know how close former undrafted free agent Jordan Dangerfield is behind him, but we’ve heard his name more this summer than we have Golden’s. I’m not suggesting that Golden’s roster spot is in jeopardy, but I would like to see him actually look like he knows where to be now in the secondary. He should see a lot of second-team deep free safety looks alongside Shamarko Thomas as soon as the Troy Polamalu, Mike Mitchell and Will Allen all exit.