The word 'or' has appeared in the same three spots on the Pittsburgh Steelers preseason depth chart for the last three weeks, but does it carry the same definition in each use?
Punters Brian Moorman and Drew Butler find themselves sharing the top spot separated only by an 'or'. The Steelers will only keep one, insinuating the most obvious definition - the team will only keep one 'or' the other.
Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith and rookie Shamarko Thomas have been sharing the spot behind starting strong safety Troy Polamalu. With numerous cornerbacks missing significant time through training camp, Thomas saw action as a slot defender in nickel packages. If Tomlin's insistence of preseason depth charts only defining intended snap distribution is accurate, then the use of the word 'or' makes sense as Cromartie-Smith would have to take safety snaps while Thomas played in the slot. Once the injured CBs started to return, Thomas got to begin taking snaps at his drafted position.
Or, does it mean the team will only keep one backup SS between Thomas and Cromartie-Smith, like it does between Moorman and Butler? D'Anthony Batiste and Joe Long used to share the second left tackle spot with an 'or'. With Batiste released in the team's first round of cuts, Long now holds the spot all to himself. If the LT and P uses of 'or' mean one or the other, how does it apply to the running backs?
Le'Veon Bell opened the preseason buried toward the bottom of the RB depth chart based on his rookie status after being selected in the second round of the 2013 draft. Prior to the second game he shot up the chart to share the top spot with Isaac Redman. Redman carried the ball twice in the first game but has been out with a shoulder stinger ever since. Bell sprained his foot in the second game and could be out for a few more weeks. However, they both continue to hold the top spot on the depth chart.
Redman is expected to be able to play in the final exhibition game against the Carolina Panthers and will most likely start after Jonathan Dwyer has carried most of the load from his second seeding as third-place LaRod Stephens-Howling, and top backs Redman and Bell have been nursing injuries.
Many presumed the Steelers would name Bell their new starter from the moment he was drafted. It made sense to have a backup plan in place in case Bell was not ready for such a role. Dwyer has been productive but is perceived as a 'square peg, round hole' fit for the team's newly instituted zone blocking scheme. Redman has yet to prove whether he fits like Bell or Dwyer only carrying the ball twice, however he continues to share the top spot with Bell.
Batiste was not simply demoted to third-string when he lost his battle with Long; he was released. The loser of Moorman vs. Butler will not fall to second place either. No one knows for sure what will happen to the loser of Thomas and Cromartie-Smith, although many have begun to write Cromartie-Smith off of their roster projections should Thomas continue to prove NFL worthy.
If Redman does start against the Panthers Thursday night, then he will most likely have the benefit of running against second-stringers or worse. If Redman fails to impress against lesser competition, which 'or' definition will apply to him?
Will he simply fall to second in front of Dwyer and Stephens-Howling, or will he match the definition which applied to Batiste, the loser of the punter's battle and possibly the safety competition?
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