As we saw a season ago, one thing this Pittsburgh Steelers team is not built for is to sustain major injuries to any of their core players.
The same statement holds true for the 2013 season and so far what we have seen early on is that depth, or lack of depth, will once again be a major issue for the Steelers.
Throughout the first week of camp, there have been plenty of Steelers veterans already sitting out practices with a variety of bumps and bruises, providing a good look into how thin the Steelers are.
On a good note, there haven’t been any major injuries outside of cornerback Cortez Allen, who had minor knee surgery last week, and offensive lineman Nik Embernate went down during a blocking drill with a torn ACL and MCL.
But those are two positions where the Steelers could be the thinnest.
Just looking at the cornerback position, William Gay has been thrust into the starting role for now, but in addition to Allen, DeMarcus Van Dyke and Terry Hawthorne have both missed time as well, leaving the Steelers ultra-thin on the outside.
The same goes for the offensive line.
Embernate wasn’t a certainty to make the team but he has been impressive and could have challenged for a spot on the final roster. His injury make that unit even thinner than it was before and you know during the next few weeks things will get even thinner as there are likely to be some injuries up front before things are all said and done.
Then there’s the tight end position, which also lacks depth.
Heath Miller is already joined on the sidelines by Matt Spaeth, leaving David Paulson as the starter right now. Paulson has been very impressive catching the football so far, but there is nothing behind him.
Finally there’s the outside linebacker spot as both LaMarr Woodley and Jason Worilds have missed some time so far.
That’s nothing new for either guy but a guy like Worilds needs to be on the field. The good news is that first-round pick Jarvis Jones has taken advantage of the opportunity, but the Steelers can’t afford to have guys like Worilds and Allen out.
The depth just isn’t there behind them and missing valuable practice time stunts their growth as players. This is a big season for both youngsters as they have big shoes to fill in Keenan Lewis and James Harrison. They can’t fill those shoes watching from the sidelines.
The good news for the Steelers is that the draft provided them with some good young talent at certain positions that should be able to step in and perform in a pinch. The bad news is that they still don’t have quality depth across the field. One storyline to keep an eye on once again for this team is injuries.
The injury bug and lack of depth crippled the Steelers in 2012. It could do the same in 2013.