For some Steelers, last chance to leave impression
Perhaps no one scrutinizes young players vying for roster spots more than proven veterans.
Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons has observed with interest rookies and free agents who have expended a wealth of sweat equity trying to convince coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert they are perfect fits.
For the most part, some players are simply numbers to Timmons. Their faces are still unfamiliar, but they are recognized for being diligent, determined and consistent.
“I really like 30 and 35,” Timmons said. “They have certainly pushed some of the older players, and I think that helps the team as a whole.”
Safety Robert Golden is No. 30, and cornerback Josh Victorian wears No. 35. They are long-shot free agents with an opportunity to enhance their odds at 7 p.m. Saturday with solid performances at Buffalo.
Coincidentally, 11-year safety Ryan Clark is impressed, too, with Golden and Victorian. He is convinced both are likely to be around Monday after the Steelers trim their roster to the league maximum 75.
Golden, a rookie free agent from Arizona, may find it difficult to find a roster spot, considering the Steelers have a number of experienced safeties, including perennial Pro Bowl starter Troy Polamalu, Ryan Mundy and Will Allen. Also, Golden is being challenged by free agent Myron Rolle.
Victorian spotted the competition a slight advantage, partly because he didn't participate in organized team activities and minicamp. The Louisiana Tech product has reeled in most everyone with solid performances against Philadelphia and Indianapolis, the latter a game in which his fourth-quarter interception helped seal a 26-24 victory.
“I feel like every practice and every game is important for me.” Golden said. “I have to compete at a high level every day. I don't feel any pressure because if I can compete against Antonio Brown, with Ben Roethlisberger throwing him the ball, then I can compete against anybody.”
It's difficult to make any roster, but there's plenty of competition at several positions for the Steelers, including defensive back, tight end and receiver. With the starters slated to get more playing time against the Bills, the window of opportunity for those on the bubble is closing.
Clearly, the pressure is on for young receivers David Gilreath and Toney Clemons. Linebacker Sean Spence, a fifth-round pick, has asserted himself during practice. And the stock of linebacker (and Monroeville native) Mortty Ivy and defensive end Al Woods continues to rise.
“It's never enough,” said Ivy, who had a blocked punt against the Colts. “You've got to get a splash play every week.”
Backup quarterback Byron Leftwich said the key is for everyone on the bubble to relax and let it happen.
“Everybody in the locker room embraces pressure,” he said. “It's what brings greatness out, especially when you're trying to get a job. You've got to be able to focus under these kinds of pressure. You can't let the fear of failing get in the way.”
Ralph N. Paulk is staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.