Now that the preseason is over, it's time for all the camp darlings and depth players to hold their breath to see which direction their career heads in. Unfortunately for them, they have to wait another 24 hours or so to find out.
Much is in question for the Steelers' depth players going into tomorrow.
Derek Moye continued to make plays last night, and he looks to be the favorite for the 5th receiver slot. His height brings an advantage should the Steelers need him to step up due to injury, and having another solid option in the receiving corps always helps on third downs. Moye's main competition, Justin Brown, exhibited decent hands in training camp, but made too many mistakes during the preseason games, and now looks like he's on the outside track to making the team.
The tight end position is still being figured out. David Johnson's return put him back into the starting role because David Paulson could not prove himself to be the threat he was hoped to be. Although things look better now that Heath Miller is closer to recovery, depth is still an issue at least until Matt Spaeth returns. The Patriots did release tight end Jake Ballard today, so there's a small chance that the Steelers could dip into free agency should they be that dissatisfied with Paulson as a backup.
Other cut stories include the battle for the newest Steeler, Felix Jones and the bubble players vying for a spot in the backfield. It did look as if the team would be ready to part ways with Jonathan Dwyer before Le'Veon Bell's foot injury, as the team would most likely not need three big running backs running the ball. But with the injuries, experienced players have an increased value for their knowledge of the Steelers' system. It will be interesting to see if anyone else gets the ax now that Baron Batch is already out of the picture.
Quarterback Landry Jones was already not on Tomlin's good side during the preseason. And his multiple interceptions thrown last night did not help his case. While he is a rookie 4th round draft pick, he hasn't shown that should the team get down to their third string quarterback for a few games, as they did last season, that he can carry the team to victory; or at least manage them to it. With the Eagles' release of Dennis Dixon, the question is open as to whether the Steelers look to free agency for an experienced backup to sit behind Bruce Gradkowski. The Steelers may not want to risk having Jones float around waiver wires and lose a future investment of a backup just because they were impatient (see Kraig Urbik).
Defensively there were are several players that will be twiddling their thumbs for the next several hours. Josh Victorian was given an opportunity to prove his worth with the early injury to Cortez Allen, but showed he was not ready to fill the shoes of a starter in Pittsburgh during 2013.
Alan Baxter and Chris Carter have made a few splash plays for the Steelers during the preseason and might have earned their keep. Especially with Adrian Robinson being traded to Philadelphia (who has since been released), the team could use depth players at the outside linebacker position behind LaMar Woodley, Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones. But the question will be how many will Pittsburgh want to keep at the position as they wait for injured players such as Le'Veon Bell, Heath Miller and our favorite, Sean Spence, to heal?
That question and many more, figure to be answered tomorrow.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Steelers vs. Panthers Postgame News and Updates
- Dennis Dixon, Adrian Robinson cut by Eagles
- Keeping six running backs, Felix Jones in particular, adds special teams depth
- Little has changed in running backs group
- Final 53 man roster predictions
- Colbert: No contracts being negotiated
- 5 things we learned this preseason
- Chris Carter named Steelers Digest Player of the Week
- Steelers fans reactions to loss to Carolina
- Winners and Losers from Steelers loss to Panthers
- Steelers lose 25-10 to Panthers in preseason finale
- Will Johnson injury update
- Steelers vs. Panthers: Linebackers are what to watch