Even if Jason Worilds suits up for Pittsburgh’s regular season finale, all signs point to linebackers coach Keith Butler utilizing an extensive amount of depth at the outside linebacker positions. According to a recent article by Scott Brown of ESPN.com, Butler mentioned that backups Chris Carter and Stevenson Sylvester will both see playing time against the Cleveland Browns.
With more potential playing time on the horizon, both linebackers must find ways to shine during their upcoming auditions before they head into what could be an eventful offseason.
Sylvester was not exactly considered a long-term option from a depth perspective by the Steelers when the 2012 regular season came to a close. After he was not tendered a restricted free agent deal at the start of the free agency period back in March, the former Utah Ute was released by the team during the first round of cuts in August.
Although the inside linebacker was eventually brought back by the club at midseason, many believed that he would play a special teams-only role. Sylvester had to step up last weekend at Green Bay as an outside linebacker, and the fourth-year player racked up five tackles while he split time on the edge. If Sylvester can display some more versatility against the Browns, then he could get a leg up on his competition in the form of Carter.
Could Carter, an unrestricted free agent in 2015, become the 2014 version of Jason Woridls?
I guess that anything is possible.
Yet for that to actually occur, the former Fresno State Bulldog would need to prove that he is worthy of receiving extended reps at one of the outside linebacker spots.
What the former fifth round pick must prove us that he can provide adequate pocket-collapse when he is called upon to play. Moreover, he must do a better job of keeping contain against the running game and holding up at the point of attack. Carter completely underwhelmed in place of an injured James Harrison back in 2012 (eight tackles and zero sacks), and rookie UDFA Alan Baxter definitely put heat on the third-year veteran during the summer and throughout the preseason.
Although the window to shine will be small, Sylvester and Carter would be wise to take advantage of their upcoming opportunities to play on the defensive side of the ball. With the team rebuilding and both guys set to become unrestricted free agents in the very near future, it will be up to both to find ways to prove that they are worthy of filling out this team’s depth chart.
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