This group of safeties does have a very nice blend of both experience and youthful exuberance that will hopefully benefit the entire team.
As the veterans and rookies reported to camp yesterday, the news wasn’t all good as newly acquired safety Mike Mitchell was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform or PUP list.
According to Mike Tomlin, Mitchell has a groin issue but could be back within a week. Every second he misses on the field with Troy Polamalu is time they won’t get to spend working together and learning each other’s tendencies.
Right now, I’m not overly concerned with Mitchell’s health. If this drags on through training camp however, I will start to have my doubts about him being 100% healthy for the season.
It goes without saying that both Polamalu and Mitchell are your starters for the 2014 season. The other guys fighting it out for roster spots are Robert Golden, Will Allen, Shamarko Thomas, Ross Ventrone and Jordan Dangerfield.
If you look back over the 2013 season, Mike Tomlin liked to have five safeties on the game day roster. Those were Polomalu, Ryan Clark, Golden, Thomas and Allen. Clark has finally taken his talents to ESPN, errrrr, the Washington Redskins so he’s out of the picture.
Common sense therefore tells us that the five guys are set with Mitchell replacing Clark. The two guys trying to make that top five are Ventrone and Dangerfield and these two couldn’t be more different.
Ventrone has bounced around the practice squads of Pittsburgh and New England so often that I wonder if he knows what the difference between the two areas is. His eligibility for the practice squad is about up so he needs to make this roster. At 27 years old, Ventrone has just one accrued season under his belt so his career is near its’ breaking point.
Dangerfield is just 23 years old and spent last season as a free agent before signing with the Steelers. He had been signed as an undrafted free agent by Buffalo but was released prior to the start of the 2013 season.
In other words, I don’t see any turnover here. Expectations are very high for Thomas and he needs to have a good year. Look for Ventrone and Dangerfield to move on while the other five earn spots on the roster.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard weekly on Trib-Live Radio talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.