As the 2014 season opener approaches, the Pittsburgh Steelers released their first depth chart since setting their 53-man roster this weekend.
With a highly-anticipated matchup with the Browns set for Sunday, there are some interesting points to observe on who is where in the scheme of things.
When the offense takes the field, starting wide receiver Antonio Brown will be backed up by 2013 sixth-round draft pick Justin Brown, with Darrius Heyward-Bey, the former Oakland Raider and Indianapolis Colt, listed third.
Second-year wideout Markus Wheaton laid claim to a starting job during the preseason, and could be a difference-maker against Cleveland if Browns cornerback Joe Haden shadows Brown. The Oregon State product has Lance Moore and Martavis Bryant behind him, but Moore is working through a leg injury.
Among the nine offensive lineman on the roster, Mike Adams, who many thought was on the bubble in training camp, is listed as the backup to left tackle Kelvin Beachum and right tackle Marcus Gilbert. 2014 fifth-round draft pick Wesley Johnson from Vanderbilt is third on the depth chart for left tackle, left guard and center.
Meanwhile, lining up for the defense will be right defensive end Cam Thomas, with Brett Keisel, the 13-season veteran, as his backup, with 2014 second-round draft pick Stephon Tuitt as backup to Cameron Heyward at left defensive end.
For the first time under head coach Mike Tomlin, there are 11 defensive backs on the roster. Former sixth-round draft pick of the Houston Texans Brice McCain will serve behind right cornerback Ike Taylor with second-year pro B.W. Webb third on the depth chart. On the other side of the field, Cortez Allen is the starting left cornerback with William Gay as the No. 2 and Antwon Blake listed third.
Matthew Marczi of SteelersDepot.com noted that Webb was added off waivers a couple of days ago in case McCain’s groin injury merits being put on the Injured Reserve-Designated To Return List.
Over on special teams, 2014 third-round draft pick Dri Archer is the No. 1 kickoff returner. However, the Kent State product is behind Brown as the lead punt returner. Tomlin believes the 5-foot-10 Central Michigan product can still handle the double-duty as he made the Pro Bowl last season as both a punt returner and wide receiver. Brown averaged 12.8 yards per return last season.
Brad Wing won the punting job by default, so it will be interesting to see how long a shelf life he has if he falters in the early going this season. Where have you gone, Bobby Walden?
From The Clipboard: When the Pittsburgh Steelers take the field on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, they will be wearing a “CHN” decal commemorating Chuck Noll on the back of their helmets.
This Sunday will be Chuck Noll Day at Heinz Field, and as part of a season-long commemoration of his coaching career, not only will the players wear the decals, but the coaches will wear pins. Both, the decals and the pins will be worn throughout the 2014 season.
The players elected their team captains for the 2014 season and they include Ben Roethlisberger as the offensive captain and Troy Polamalu on defense. Special teams will be represented by safety Robert Golden and placekicker Shaun Suisham.
It is the first time for Polamalu, Golden and Suisham to serve the team in this capacity.