When training camp arrives, beat writers love to write about the surprise stars of camp. All the fans reading the reports want to know which rookies are stepping up, and who is going to make the roster, so they do a good job of filling the need.
And it doesn’t hurt that writing a story about how Emmanuel Sanders is dazzling the coaching staff is both an interesting story and a great way to get to know a future contributor at a time when he’s still feeling his way around camp.
What’s just as noteworthy is who you’re not reading about. Beat writers aren’t going to fall over themselves to write full features explaining how a second-year player hasn’t taken a step forward. I’m not blaming them for that–picking on a disappointing player when he still has time to turn things around is not exactly a great strategy for having an easy time in the locker room.
But if you’re paying attention, you’ll notice who’s not being noticed. Here’s a look at some players who have been rather quiet during training camp. I’m happy to crowd-source this thing–if you have seen a story that disagrees with what I’m writing here, please let me know. And if there’s a player I’m leaving out, please suggest that also.
Kraig Urbik: A year ago, there was talk that Urbik could battle for a starting job. Instead undrafted free agent Ramon Foster quickly moved ahead of him on the depth chart and ended up starting late in the season.
Urbik has taken up playing center this year in hopes of demonstrating added versatility (it’s much easier to make the active roster if you can play center and guard). But Doug Legursky is clearly ahead of him on the depth chart at both positions, Ramon Foster has more power and versatility and rookie Maurkice Pouncey is leapfrogging past all of them on the depth chart.
About the only time Urbik’s name has been mentioned recently was a note on an injury to a second-team offensive lineman, which allowed Urbik to move up from third string to work with the second team. That doesn’t sound promising.
Stevenson Sylvester: When the Steelers drafted three linebackers this spring, you knew that there would be plenty of competition for roster spots. When you throw in the fact that Larry Foote was brought back after a vacation in Detroit (I didn’t say it was a fun vacation) and there are more solid linebackers in camp than there are roster spots.
Sylvester’s name has been mentioned a couple of times during training camp reports, but we’re not seeing anything like the praise that’s being heaped on Thaddeus Gibson. That doesn’t mean he’s having a bad training camp, but with four veteran inside linebackers ahead of him on the depth chart, Sylvester better make some plays on special teams and look good during preseason games if he doesn’t want a spot on the practice squad.
William Gay: At this time last year, Gay was an undisputed starter at cornerback. The Steelers brought Bryant McFadden back after Gay had a disappointing 2009 season, so the starting job if probably out. But maybe Gay is in more trouble than that. There are a lot of stories being written about Keenan Lewis’ significant improvement during his second year, but not a whole lot being written about Gay bouncing back after last year’s troubles.
That doesn’t mean Gay’s in any trouble of not making the team or anything like that, but we’re not seeing any mention of McFadden’s return inspiring Gay to reach new heights.