AlliedNews.com - Grove City, Pennsylvania

May 8, 2013

STAIRWAY TO 7: Steelers still have needs to fill

By Corey J. Corbin
Allied News Sports Columnist

OPINION — NOW THAT THE NFL draft is over and the Steelers have signed a handful of undrafted free agents, it’s time to look at what the Black and Gold need to do to fill out their roster properly before training camp commences in late July.

ä Find interior line depth — As we speak, the team has absolutely no depth at guard or tackle, which could be an issue if Maurkice Pouncey remains injury prone.

Not too many people talk about this, Pouncey has struggled to stay upright in his short Steelers career and in the past we’ve had Doug Legursky to fill in.

Well Legursky to my knowledge is still unsigned and could probably be had for a decent price to be the top back-up guard and center with Kelvin Beachum capable of filling in at guard as well.

But what happens if Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert are both down and Beachum has to start in their sted?

I would think the Steelers would be interested in bringing Max Starks back at a steeply reduced rate, but from the looks of it, he isn’t interested in that concept since veteran tackle Guy Whimper signed with the team Monday afternoon.

Apparently, Mike Golic Jr. has a decent shot to make the 53-man roster as a guard and is capable of playing center — the team also had him work at tackle during the rookie session last weekend.

ä Get more linebackers -- The Steelers are pretty solid at inside linebacker with Larry Foote and Lawrence Timmons set to start side-by-side for the second straight year, but behind them there’s little else.

Yeah, Stevenson Sylvester was re-signed this spring, but what has he done to warrant the top back-up spot.

Other than him, there’s rookie linebacker Vince Williams, but can we realistically expect much out of him this year other than special teams play?

Then we move to the outside where Jason Worilds will have to fend off first round selection Jarvis Jones for the right to start opposite LaMarr Woodley.

Aside from those three, there’s very little depth.

Yeah, I know Timmons can slide outside in a pinch, but that leaves a gaping hole in the middle of the defense.

ä Figure out what to do at safety — Robert Golden appears to be the next man up as the top back up Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark as we speak in May, but may be supplanted by fourth round pick Shamarko Thomas eventually.

I just don’t know that I trust Golden — I actually think Thomas will outplay him in training camp to become the third safety -- so another safety to compete with him would be nice.

ä Who’s going to back up Steve McLendon? — I guess as we stand this week Alameda Ta’Amu would spell McLendon, but he didn’t necessarily impress as a rookie before getting into all kinds of legal problems.

There’s been talk of Ziggy Hood possibly shifting inside to nose tackle and allowing Cam Heyward to start at defensive end, but I don’t know that I like that scenario either.

There has to be a veteran nose tackle out there who’d be willing to accept the veteran’s minimum to light a fire under Ta’Amu’s rather large behind.



Agree, disagree or just want to comment? Contact Corey J. Corbin at gcsportsguy@yahoo.com.