Am I the only one which saw shades of Joe Theismann’s horrific injury when the replays of Sean Spence’s knee were shown? ACL, LCL, and Dislocated Knee Cap are never a good combination, and to think Spence will contribute anything to this club by the time 2014 rolls around is a bit of stretch.
But instead of adopting a “Negative Nancy” attitude about the recent injuries, I would like to focus on some more positive things, namely the 53-man roster which the team will be taking into the 2012 campaign. I do not know about you readers, but the most interesting and intriguing thing to me about how the final roster broke down were the number of UDFA’s which made the final 53. With the UDFA’s in mind, I thought I would take time out to recognize those which made the most of their efforts, and discuss what they could contribute to the team now and hopefully over the course of their careers’.
Granted, Drew Butler did not have any competition for his job as Jeremy Kapinos missed the entirety of the preseason due to injury. Yet Butler did a consistent enough job to not only keep the position, but prevented the Coaching Staff from scouring the waiver wire for somebody else. On the preseason, Butler punted 28 Times for an average of almost 46 Yards (45.8), and now enters the season with the Punter job all to himself. The Steelers have not had a Pro Bowl Punter since Bobby Walden garnered the honors back before there was a League merger, and could sure use some consistency and stability at the position. Butler is young, has a strong leg, and appears to have the confidence of the Coaching Staff heading into this season.
As for Golden, despite the fact that he injured his hamstring against the Panthers, the former Wildcat definitely played well enough on Special Teams and on Defense to earn a job on the Practice Squad. I liked Golden’s skill-set coming out of Tucson, and I was especially fond of the fact that he had a great deal of experience playing Cornerback and Safety in the Pac-12 pass-happy conference. Golden made 8 Tackles and 1 Interception on the preseason, and leapfrogged ahead of Da’mon Cromartie-Smith for one of the final roster spots. Ryan Mundy and Will Allen had better be on notice during the next couple of seasons, because Golden will be jockeying for chances to prove himself on Special Teams and in Nickel & Dime sub-packages on Defense as well.
Robinson to his credit showed a knack for getting to the Quarterback and creating pressure off of the edge over the last four weeks, and played much better than his stat line (3 Tackles and 1 Pass Defended) indicated. While the former Owl Defensive End will have to work on fine tuning aspects of his game like defending the run and playing pass coverage, the skill set is there for Keith Butler to work with and develop. And honestly, who better to learn from at a position than James Harrison and LaMarr Woodely, right? Plus, the fierce competition between Jason Worilds, Chris Carter, and Robinson can only help this team in terms of stabilizing the position in the future. On a team which will be purging veterans left and right over the next few seasons, these youngsters have walked into a solid situation where they can better themselves and eventually become N.F.L. starters and/or decent contributors over their careers’.
The Steelers have historically been a team which gives chances to, and develops UDFA’s on a more consistent basis than most. I will definitely be interested in watching these guys develop over the next couple of seasons. How long these three will stay on the 53-man roster is a mystery, but they did show enough promise to be kept around after only one Training Camp and preseason. While they might not be household or recognizable names right now, these three players could make their presences felt earlier than expected.
Statistics Courtesy of: ESPN.com Steelers Page