LATROBE, Pa. – The Steelers released their first depth chart of 2018 today in advance of their preseason opener on Thursday, Aug. 9 against the Philadelphia Eagles. And if anyone is thinking this depth chart might be a reflection of what has been happening on the practice fields at Saint Vincent College, that it might provide some insight into any developing pecking orders at the various positions, think again.
The NFL mandates that all teams release a depth chart in advance of the preseason opener, and then that depth chart is to be updated weekly from that point through the end of the regular season. Coach Mike Tomlin, famous for his disdain of depth charts, complies with the rules.
The initial depth chart – as it pertains to the starters on offense, defense, and special teams – is almost an exact replica of the one released before the 2017 AFC Divisional Round Game vs. Jacksonville last January, with a few obvious exceptions. Martavis Bryant was traded to Oakland; Mike Mitchell was released; and the team previously announced that outside linebackers Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt would be switching sides.
Outside of that, there are no changes to the starting lineups. Le'Veon Bell might be without a contract, but he’s listed as the starting running back. Ramon Foster injured an MCL during a practice here earlier in the week that may or may not allow him to be physically ready for the regular season opener, but he’s still the starting left guard. Morgan Burnett is in Mitchell’s spot at free safety. JuJu Smith-Schuster is in Bryant’s spot at wide receiver opposite Antonio Brown.
From there, an analysis of the backups shows a consistent pattern, that pattern being the backups are generally listed in terms of experience in the league and/or experience with the Steelers. And in the case of multiple rookies, the draft picks are listed ahead of the undrafted free agents. There might be an exception or two, but the pattern is largely consistent throughout.
Two examples of this are: first-round pick Terrell Edmunds is fourth at free safety, behind Burnett, fifth-year pro Nat Berhe and first-year pro Malik Golden; and second-round pick James Washington is fifth at the one wide receiver spot, behind Smith-Schuster, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and first-year pros Tevin Jones and Trey Griffey.
It is a fact the Steelers released their initial depth chart of the 2018 season today, but that doesn’t necessarily make that depth chart news.
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