Injuries for the Steelers are already causing roster shuffles during the preseason. Some players have already been locked into roster spots. That said, this preseason game against the Colts will be a big barometer of how the team is progressing in certain areas – especially the Haley and the offense. It’s also a time when some players who are now given an opportunity to shine while in the spotlight.
There are a few key players whom I feel have a chance to seize the moment they’ve been given by playing in tonight’s game against the Colts: Chris Carter, Will Johnson, Mike Adams, Curtis Brown, Baron Batch.
Chris Carter: With James Harrison and Jason Worilds out for a while, someone will need to line up opposite of LaMarr Woodley. Deebo has been plagued by injuries for the last two seasons. Perhaps the scoped knee will help him for the better, but the Steelers may see the exit of one of the most feared LB’s in the NFL happen sooner rather than later. Carter was drafted last season and saw limited action. Steven Sylvester and Adrian Robinson will also be hungry to step up this week against the Colts, but Carter is in a better position to turn heads should he have a solid game and maybe wrap his arms around Luck.
Will Johnson: Johnson has been showing all camp long that he is a consistent ball carrier and run blocker. With David Johnson out for the season, Will is in prime position to lock up the FB spot. He needs to shine in order to push guys like Jamie McCoy and Jason Ford out of the picture. He also needs to put a lot of confidence in Haley that he is indeed the one for the fullback spot.
Mike Adams: Adams struggled in the first preseason game against the Eagles. Max Starks has been signed and had been practicing. We probably won’t see any of Starks at all this week against the Colts. That means it’s time for Adams to step up and show that he was deserved of that pick by the Steelers in the second round of the draft. If he can’t impress this week and show signs of improvement, then Starks will quickly work his way into that spot. Adams is sure to be tested against the Colts’ OLB’s tonight.
Curtis Brown: Brown gave up two touchdown passes against the Eagles last week. At the start of camp he, Cortez Allen and Keenan Lewis were all in the running for the #2 corner spot after WWW (Will Willie William) Gay left the Steelers. Lewis is locked at the #2 spot now, and Dick LeBeau told reporters that Allen is the nickel back. And while that means Brown is at the bottom of the roster, he still needs to show he is worth something to this defense if he doesn’t want to be just stuck in special teams for the next season. The Steelers are bound to have numerous dime looks this season, and Brown should be able to fill that spot over someone like Cromartie-Smith (even though Smith is a safety).
Baron Batch: Redman is out against the Colts. John Clay is shelved. Mendenhall is off the PUP but won’t have a game situation for a while. Chris Rainey already showed last week that he will be worth keeping around. The running backs list will get cut down by Week 1, and Batch needs to make sure he can stay on the roster. The young man turned heads early in camp last season but went out with a season ending ACL injury. He has yet to have the same type of performance as last season. It will be the Batch, Dwyer and Rainey show tonight. If Batch wants to remain on this team, he’ll need to have a good night tonight.