I wrote an article before the Steelers Week 1 preseason game against the New York Giants talking about how preseason depth charts are completely meaningless, and I stand by that article. However, depth charts in the regular season carry a lot more significance and validity compared to their preseason brethren.
On Tuesday, the Steelers released their first depth chart of the 2017 NFL regular season, and there are some noteworthy nuggets of information for fans to check out. But before getting to said information, it should be reiterated how these are far from set in stone.
Offense Depth Chart Notes:
- When it comes to backing up Le’Veon Bell, it is James Conner who has been given such a dubious task, followed by Terrell Watson. Some questioned just how the depth chart will look when Bell returns, and so far it shows the rookie from Pitt being No. 2 in line.
- “The Outlaw” Jesse James is listed as the first tight end on the depth chart, followed by recently acquired Vance McDonald. Xavier Grimble is listed as the third tight end on the chart.
- Darrius Heyward-Bey is above Justin Hunter on the depth chart, for what that is worth, but both will see very few repetitions if everyone stays health.
- Some questioned if Landry Jones would lose his backup duties to Joshua Dobbs, and as expected, Jones is No. 2 behind Ben Roethlisberger.
Defense Depth Chart Notes:
- Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt are your starting outside linebackers to start the regular season. James Harrison is the backup behind Watt, with Anthony Chickillo and Arthur Moats, in that order, backing up Dupree on the left side.
- Joe Haden is listed as the starting left cornerback with Artie Burns on the right. This isn’t a surprise, but the fact Mike Hilton, who got starting repetitions in the nickel at practice Monday, is listed as the low man on the cornerback totem pole behind Coty Sensabaugh.
- Mike Mitchell, despite being injured all season, is listed as the starting safety alongside Sean Davis, with J.J. Wilcox behind Mitchell and Robert Golden behind Davis.
Special Teams Depth Chart Notes:
- Several fans have wondered just who will return kickoffs for the Steelers in 2017, and the early answer is JuJu Smith-Schuster. The rookie receiver is listed as the kick returner on the depth chart, with Artie Burns and Terrell Watson behind him.
- As for punt returner, Antonio Brown is listed as the primary punt returner, with Eli Rogers as the only other option on the team. If you are in the “it is too dangerous for Brown to be returning punts” camp, then you might want to look away.
For the complete Week 1 depth chart, check out the Steelers official website.