No one is every happy to see a player not get the opportunity to fulfill his dream of becoming a NFL player, but when news broke of Shawn Lemon's release Wednesday evening, there were certainly members of the Pittsburgh Steelers who gave a very quiet fist pump knowing it is one less person in the way of them and their dream.
Lemon's release certainly will have a ripple effect on the team's outside linebacker depth in many ways. Lemon, who was trying to translate a tremendous 2014 season in the CFL to a quality NFL career, could rush the passer from both sides. This versatility was one of the many characteristics which intrigued Lemon to the Steelers, but with a strained Achilles tendon placing him on the PUP list, he became expendable.
Gerod Holliman getting chances to show physicality
The biggest cut on rookie safety Gerod Hollian is his overall lack of physicality and tackling ability. The way training camp has been panning out, he will have a great opportunity to prove he is more than capable of physical play.
An injury can change everything for fringe players
The Steelers waived talented prospect Shawn Lemon on Wednesday after he was unable to come off the PUP list due to an Achilles tendon injury. He joins a long list of other marginal players, in Pittsburgh and around the league, for whom opportunity was dashed in the blink of any eye.
This now opens the door for members of the team to get more repetitions, to get noticed and hopefully to make the team's final 53-man roster. So, who is vying for such an honor with Lemon now out of the equation?
Second year linebacker Howard Jones continues to show his talent in training camp, but questions abound around his ability to play outside linebacker on a regular basis, or if he is nothing more than Terence Garvin 2.0.
Rookie Anthony Chickillo has gotten nothing but props at training camp so far, and his new weight seems to be paying off with explosion and better speed than he had in college. Chickillo just reeks of a football player and might just have the desperation needed to turn some heads.
Shayon Green might be a long shot to make the team, but as players like Chris Carter have discovered before, sometimes a quality preseason can certainly spark an interest from the organization.
Lastly, Jordan Zumwalt, who could technically play inside or outside linebacker, will certainly move up a notch with Lemon out of the picture despite missing all of 2014 with an injury. Zumwalt needs to make a name for himself, and more repetitions will do just that.
No one wants to see a teammate injured, or released, but in training camp you are competing against your teammates for your future and your livelihood. It is every man for themselves, and as Arthur Moats, Bud Dupree, Jarvis Jones and James Harrison can rest easy in regards to their roster spots, the other players are forced to look out for themselves and only themselves.
Lemon's absence opens the door for more repetitions and exposure for the 'next man up'. Who that man will be, well, only time will tell.