This Steelers’ Blog Bets the Post-Gazette Is Wrong on Predicting 8 LBs

In today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, veteran reporter Gerry Dulac wrote point-blank that the Steelers will keep eight linebackers on its roster this fall, because that is the same number they kept last year.

However, the Steelers kept nine linebackers the two previous seasons before 2009 on their opening-day roster. In fact, their roster is usually flexible among 8-9 linebackers and 6-7 defensive linemen to go with 9 defensive backs. All of those figures might go up due to young defensive talent fighting for the last spots this fall, while marginal players are doing so on offense.

More surprising is that Dulac contends rookie fifth-round pick Stevenson Sylvester is battling rookie fourth-round pick Thad Gibson for the eighth and final spot. However, those have been two of the more impressive players in Pittsburgh’s training camp and both played very well in the preseason opener against the Lions.

Gibson is currently the third outside linebacker behind James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, although Pittsburgh would likely move starting inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons outside in the event of an injury to one of the aforementioned superstars.

The Steelers have cut some recent fourth-round picks (e.g., Orien Harris, Fred Gibson). However, those players had poor training camps, while Thad Gibson has excelled. Fourth-round picks are rarely cut by any teams.

Meanwhile, Sylvester, who also excelled on special teams at Utah, would more likely be fighting Keyaron Fox for the No. 4 inside linebacker spot and final linebacker roster spot if the Steelers only keep eight.

However, I would bet Dulac as much as he desires that – barring injury – nine linebackers are on Pittsburgh’s opening-day roster, just like they were in 2007 and 2008 when the overall talent fighting for the final roster spots was nowhere near as good at linebacker as it is in 2010.

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  • Anonymous

    We haven’t seen much or Worilds, and he has been nursing injuries sustained in training camp. I know that minor training camp injuries are often treated with greater caution due to the lower stakes, but if he’s not training and playing in preseason soon, do you think there’s much chance of him finding his way over to the IR or PUP?

  • http://www.steelerslounge.com/ ryan

    Intropy,

    Tomlin said in his presser today that Worilds will play against the Giants and hopefully he can stay healthy. Jonathan Dwyer, however, sounds like he’s destined to get cut. As Jake Plummer once said of Maurice Clarett, “you can’t make the club from the tub.” True that.

  • JJ Cooper

    Also it’s worth noting, once you show up and practice, as I understand it the PUP is no longer an option. You can IR a guy, but if he gets hurt during practice, the PUP is not available. It’s only to be used on players who are not healthy to begin training camp, which is why Chris Scott is a likely PUP candidate.

  • JJ Cooper

    Also it’s worth noting, once you show up and practice, as I understand it the PUP is no longer an option. You can IR a guy, but if he gets hurt during practice, the PUP is not available. It’s only to be used on players who are not healthy to begin training camp, which is why Chris Scott is a likely PUP candidate.

  • RoB D

    There’s always a story within a story but…Dwyer showing up out of shape gives you an idea of his commitment level (in the absence of any mitigating factors we don’t know about of course).

    It kills me that a guy who could filled a position of need and perhaps even be looking at being the no. 2 back on this team given his talent level coming out of college, just doesn’t seize the day. Baffling. You are an athlete with a chance to make millions and play a sport you love? But you just can’t stay away from the ice cream? Okayyyyyy….lol…

    Fungible.

  • drinkingclub

    Would lots of linebackers improve special teams coverage? Sounds reasonable to me.

  • drinkingclub

    Would lots of linebackers improve special teams coverage? Sounds reasonable to me.

  • Ted

    Drinking, yes, absolutely! And Sylvester and Fox both excel at special-teams coverage. The Steelers usually have at least thre reserve linebackers on special-teams coverage units and Foote will not be among them. That leaves Fox, Sylvester and either Gibson or Worilds (whoever is on the 45-man dress roster) for special teams. This is another reason we are confident Sylvester makes the team.

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