By Alex Kozora
Because it never gets the love it deserves, today I’m breaking down the Pittsburgh Steelers special teams groups – unit by unit – from the Thursday night loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Although there have been injuries to Shaq Richardson and Devin Smith the last two weeks, Isaiah Green has been on first team kick coverage since prior to the first preseason. There’s no way Green makes the team but it’s something to keep in mind when trying to scratch out the practice squad.
It would be a mild surprise to see Ryan Shazier on the Week One kick coverage unit. He’ll likely be replaced. But Will Johnson’s return should avoid much of a shakeup with Arthur Moats or Vince Williams likely becoming L5.
Brice McCain has been on first team kick coverage from the onset. Just another piece of evidence to show he’s going to make this team. And probably be active.
The first team wedge was made up of two backups; Cody Wallace and Will Johnson are the usual duo. Although Tauren Poole’s hamstring injury made the decision easy, you have to think LeGarrette Blount is going to be the team’s first team upbacks on kicks.
Not gaining much clarity on Michael Palmer vs David Paulson here. Both on this unit.
Palmer running ahead of Paulson on punt coverage. Gunners are no surprise. Antwon Blake and Shamarko Thomas’ jobs are secure. Most interesting note is Vic So’oto running down punts with the 1’s. Ahead of Chris Carter though 54 is on first team punt return. Coaches could be pitting them against each other here, giving them separate units to start on.
With Poole out, Robert Golden was the upback with the first and second units. Will Allen is a Steeler that has gotten brief work there in camp but he was obviously out. In a pinch, William Gay can be used as an upback.
The only player I missed on any of the units is the right guard on second team punt coverage. On both opportunities, I was unable to find him. Why the position is designated with a question mark.
Field Goal Block
Field Goal Protection
Nothing very interesting on the field goal blocking unit. First team defense are just the starters.
Protection unit is fairly similar though Stephon Tuitt gets reps here with the first team protection unit on the edge. And Palmer is running over Paulson again here. Paulson with the second team.
Just to wrap things up, a quick tally of a few key players and how many units they received first team reps on.
Chris Carter: 2
Vic So’oto: 1
Brice McCain: 2
Darrius Heyward-Bey: 1
Michael Palmer: 3
David Paulson: 1