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Steelers

Steelers training camp preview: New faces join veterans on defense

Joe Rutter
| Saturday, July 21, 2018, 3:36 p.m.
Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward stretches during practice, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward practices Wednesday, June 13, 2018.
Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward stretches during practice, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward practices Wednesday, June 13, 2018.

Defensive ends

97 Cam Heyward, 6-5, 295: He still hasn’t been selected to a Pro Bowl, but a bigger honor — an All-Pro selection — came Heyward’s way in 2017. He set a career high with 12 sacks.

91 Stephon Tuitt, 6-6, 303: A torn biceps injury on the third snap of the season limited Tuitt the entire year. If healthy, he is a dependable bookend to Heyward and gives the Steelers another capable pass rusher.

94 Tyson Alualu, 6-3, 304: He had a career-high four sacks in limited playing time. He also solidified what had been a revolving door among veteran backup defensive linemen in recent seasons.

96 L.T. Walton, 6-5, 305: In his third season, Walton appeared in every game, collected two sacks and was used when the Steelers rested Heyward and Tuitt.

95 Lavon Hooks, 6-3, 312: Time is running out for Hooks, who spent all of last season on the Steelers practice squad and has never played in an NFL game despite being a member of the 2015 draft class.

62 Greg Gilmore, 6-4, 308: An undrafted free agent, Gilmore had 7.5 sacks as a senior at LSU and could contend for one of the final spots on the defensive line.

64 Kendal Vickers, 6-3, 295: At Tennessee, Vickers played outside linebacker and defensive end before bulking up to play tackle. He had 13.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in 42 career games.

74 Casey Sayles, 6-3, 289: The Ohio University alum, at 22, is among the youngest players among the defensive line prospects. He was in the Los Angeles Rams training camp last season.

Defensive tackles

79 Javon Hargrave, 6-2, 305: After winning the starting job as a rookie in the 2016 camp, Hargrave has played two steady seasons in the middle of the line. The Steelers would like to see him become more consistent.

93 Daniel McCullers, 6-7, 352: One of the offseason surprises was the Steelers bringing back the little-used McCullers for a fifth season. Perhaps new defensive line coach Karl Dunbar can tap into McCullers’ potential.

69 Joshua Frazier, 6-3, 321: The Steelers used their seventh-round pick to take Frazier, who primarily was a backup at Alabama. He also projects as a nose tackle but believes he is versatile enough to play all over the line.

61 Parker Cothren, 6-4, 304: He played in every game at Penn State since his redshirt freshman year. Cothren had 23 tackles and 1.5 sacks as a senior and was honorable mention All-Big Ten.

Inside linebackers

98 Vince Williams, 6-1, 233: Given a chance in 2017 to start full time, Williams produced eight sacks and 88 tackles. He will be tasked with breaking in a new position partner after Ryan Shazier’s injury.

44 Tyler Matakevich, 6-1, 235: He had offseason shoulder surgery but was healthy in spring workouts when he played with the first-team defense at Shazier’s old spot.

51 Jon Bostic, 6-1, 245: The Steelers gave Bostic a two-year contract, and he’ll compete with Matakevich for a starting job. He had 97 tackles last season with Indianapolis.

54 L.J. Fort, 6-0, 230: After Shazier’s injury, Fort was used at inside linebacker on passing downs. He also is a special teams contributor.

40 Matt Galambos 6-1, 239: The former Pitt player was brought back for another training camp after receiving an injury settlement early last year.

55 Keith Kelsey, 6-0, 233: An undrafted free agent who spent the 2017 training camp with the Steelers, Kelsey was signed to the practice squad in September when Galambos was injured.

46 Matthew Thomas, 6-3, 232: At Florida State, he had some off-field issues early in his career but led the Seminoles in tackles each of the past two seasons. He was a priority undrafted free agent.

Outside linebackers

48 Bud Dupree, 6-4, 269: The Steelers exercised Dupree’s fifth-year contract option in the spring. Now, it’s up to Dupree, who is moving from the left side to the right, to prove he is worth the investment.

90 T.J. Watt, 6-4, 252: As a rookie, Watt recorded seven sacks, the second most by a Steelers rookie. He also had 52 tackles and eight passes defensed. This year, he moves to the left side.

56 Anthony Chickillo, 6-3, 255: He enters camp as the lone veteran backup at his position. He had three sacks in limited action last year and contributed on special teams.

99 Keion Adams, 6-2, 245: The 2017 seventh-rounder was considered a bonus player in the 2018 draft class after he missed his rookie season with a torn labrum that required surgery.

41 Farrington Huguenin, 6-4, 268: At Kentucky, he counted Dupree among his teammates and was a 3-4 defensive end before transitioning to outside linebacker with the Steelers. He was on the practice squad last year.

49 Darnell Leslie, 6-2, 235: The former Monmouth player spent some time in the Canadian Football League last year and signed a futures contract with the Steelers in January.

92 Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, 6-1, 248: He wears James Harrison’s old number. In his final year at Toledo, he had 20 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks for the Mid-American Conference champions.

Safeties

21 Sean Davis, 6-1, 202: After the release of Mike Mitchell, Robert Golden and J.J. Wilcox, Davis is only safety on the roster who played in the Steelers secondary last season. He could move to free safety.

42 Morgan Burnett, 6-1, 209: His eight-year tenure in Green Bay ended when the Steelers gave him a three-year contract in free agency. Burnett can play free or strong safety.

37 Jordan Dangerfield, 5-11, 199: He returned to the practice squad with the Steelers after he was re-signed in mid-October, yet he never was promoted to the active roster. He appeared in 13 games in 2016.

31 Nat Berhe, 5-11, 195: Berhe became a special teams whiz with the Giants and earned the nickname “The Missile” for his thundering hits. Berhe joined the Steelers because of a chance to earn an expanded role.

34 Terrell Edmunds, 6-1, 217: He could fill a hybrid linebacker/safety role with the Steelers, who selected Edmunds in the first round after the top linebacker choices were off the board.

27 Marcus Allen, 6-2, 215: The fifth-rounder is the tallest safety on the roster and wwas known for his physicality at Penn State.

39 Malik Golden, 6-0, 205: He was waived/injured during roster cuts last season, but the former Penn State player was brought back under the terms of a futures contract in January.

Cornerbacks

25 Artie Burns, 6-0, 197: In his second season, Burns had just one interception and was prone in the second half to giving up the big play. The Steelers are looking for improvement in Year 3.

23 Joe Haden, 5-11, 195: He hasn’t been available for a full season since 2014, and his first year with the Steelers included five games missed with a leg injury. He was steady when he was on the field.

28 Mike Hilton, 5-9, 184: As the slot corner. Hilton played in all 16 games and got four starts. He contributed four sacks, including three in one game, and two interceptions.

24 Coty Sensabaugh, 5-11, 187: His contributions were confined to special teams until Haden injured his leg. Sensabaugh made four starts but started losing snaps to Cameron Sutton at the end of that run.

20 Cameron Sutton, 5-11, 188: After missing 12 weeks because of a hamstring injury, Sutton saw his playing time increase down the stretch, and he started against New England.

29 Brian Allen, 6-3, 215: The former fifth-rounder was used on special teams in 10 games and logged one defensive snap. He’s trying to carve a bigger role in his second season.

35 Dashaun Phillips, 5-11, 186: He spent last season on the practice squad after being acquired in a trade during training camp with the Washington Redskins.

30 Jamar Summers, 6-0, 190: At Connecticut, Summers had eight interceptions as a sophomore. In his final season, he played mainly as a hybrid defensive back and had one sack, one interception, seven passes defensed and one forced fumble.

38 Trey Johnson, 5-11, 170: A three-year starter at Villanova, Johnson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds at the school’s pro day. As a senior, he had two interceptions and 13 passes defensed.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at jrutter@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

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