Fringe Steelers must seize chances where they can
It'll be played in Canada, but it's still just a preseason game.
Nothing more, nothing less, which means tonight's Steelers-Bills clash in Toronto will be nothing less than critical for those who would be Steelers.
There's more at stake tonight than the punting derby between Mitch Berger, who enjoys home-country advantage in this game, and Paul Ernster.
Wide receivers Willie Reid and Dallas Baker - A spot seemingly exists at the position behind Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward, Nate Washington and Limas Sweed. But to this point, neither Reid nor Baker have established themselves as worthy.
Reid's chances at becoming a star returner, something he was drafted to do in the third round in 2006, have all but evaporated. But he still has a chance to salvage himself as a pass-catcher if the brief but noticeable flash he produced this week can be sustained.
Baker is J.A.G. - scouting vernacular for "just a guy."
Chances are, the fifth receiver will come from another team's final cuts.
But with Byron Leftwich firing fastballs as the No. 2 passer, there's still time for someone on the current roster to make a compelling argument.
Offensive tackle Tony Hills - It's been difficult to determine if Hills, a fourth-round pick from Texas, is John Jackson or Fred Gibson/Ryan McBean.
Jackson was so overwhelmed as a rookie during a preseason disaster in New Orleans that he became convinced he'd be cut, to the extent that he was shaking hands and saying good-byes in the locker room afterward. But the Steelers kept Jackson, a 10th round pick in 1988, and he wound up sticking around until 1997.
Gibson, a fourth-round pick out of Georgia in 2005, failed to make the team as a rookie, something McBean did as a fourth-rounder from Oklahoma State last season and will again this year.
Defensive backs Roy Lewis and Ryan Mundy - Their fates may ultimately be tied to those of veteran safety Tyrone Carter and/or third-year safety Anthony Smith.
Smith's turbulent 2007 confirmed that he isn't cut out for free safety. The argument could be made, thus, that the backward steps he took were due mostly to his playing out of position.
He needs to establish that he can contribute at strong safety to secure his spot.
That shouldn't be a problem given Smith's game and Smith's makeup.
But he's off to a poor start.
Carter, it was thought, would be pushed hard by Mundy, a sixth-round pick from West Virginia, with the better man emerging. But Mundy's high-ankle sprain has put his bid on hold.
Or has it?
Rookie-free agent offensive lineman Darnell Stapleton underwent arthroscopic surgery in training camp last year and still made the team.
Lewis, meanwhile, has transformed himself from a rookie-free agent cornerback from Washington into a rookie-free agent cornerback/safety.
His grasp of position flexibility has not gone unnoticed.
Defensive lineman Scott Paxson - Is his third camp the charm?
Paxson is pushing hard along the defensive line, and was given a couple of reps with the No. 1 kickoff team this week. He isn't the fastest man on the planet, but Paxson can bust a wedge.
He could push veteran Nick Eason and/or veteran Travis Kirschke for a roster spot.
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.
- In reworking contract, Steelers WR Brown gets hefty pay raise
- Steelers trying to get missing defensive pieces on field
- Steelers running back eager to prove he can help bridge gap to Bell
- Steelers notebook: New kicker Scobee relishes opportunity
- RB Williams believes he’s making seamless transition to Steelers
- Steelers’ Tomlin disappointed by Bryant suspension
- Steelers trade 6th-round pick for Jaguars kicker Scobee
- Steelers notebook: LB Harrison believes Goodell will prevail in Brady ruling
- Bryant suspension opens doors for other Steelers’ receivers
- Rossi: Beleaguered Steelers need MVP from Big Ben
- Steelers rookie receiver Coates learning on the fly