Have you seen the first depth chart for the Pittsburgh Steelers of 2016? Well, look no further...
First Steelers depth chart - Villanueva at LT, Cockrell at CB, but largely no surprises. Should be fairly fluid. pic.twitter.com/0xTQZgFaSK— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 8, 2016
As fans pour over the lists by position, they should keep something simple in mind. Well, rather than me saying it, let Burt Lauten, of Steelers Public Relations, explain what I'm thinking. After all, I'm just some idiot blogger.
Today the #Steelers will release their NFL-mandated preseason depth chart. It doesn't necessarily reflect play/practice reps after one week.— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) August 8, 2016
In case you can't read between the lines of Burt's tweet, let me put it into simple terms: Don't put too much stock into this depth chart.
Look closely at the lists and you can see it almost looks as if they are listed by seniority. Sure, as Jeremy Fowler points out, Alejandro Villanueva is slotted as the starting left tackle, and Ross Cockrell as the second cornerback, but what did you expect as the team prepares for their first action of the 2016 preseason Friday night?
You will see websites pouring over the depth chart with a fine-toothed comb looking for the tiniest intricacy which might cause some to raise an eyebrow.
What's that you say? Sean Davis is the last strong safety on the depth chart, behind Ray Vinopal?! He must have really made Mike Tomlin mad at practice. I thought he was getting repetitions with the starters since Senquez Golson's foot injury?
See what I'm saying?
The Steelers have to release a depth chart by NFL rule prior to every game, but no one controls how they list their 90 players. Some teams don't take this practice lightly, but the Steelers aren't one of them. The organization is one of the most tight-lipped organizations in the NFL, and what they choose to release, and what they have to release are two completely different things.
There are times when watching the Mike Tomlin's weekly press conferences you think he would have been better off being a hockey coach. After all, as reluctant as NFL teams are to release injury information, wouldn't it be easier for him to just say "Upper Body Injury" or "Lower Body Injury"?
However, the NFL ensures certain information is released to the public, like injuries, but how they list their depth chart is one of the few things in the league which isn't policed. Therefore, fans might want to take it with a grain of salt until the regular season begins.