The Pittsburgh Steelers are set at the starting outside linebacker positions with LaMarr Woodley and Jason Worilds. Add the fact that the team just drafted Jarvis Jones in the first round as an instant pass rusher and eventual starter and that really only leaves one roster spot left at the position. The Steelers did keep five outside linebackers on the roster last season in Woodley, Worilds, James Harrison, Chris Carter and Adrian Robinson. A huge reason for that though was because both Harrison and Worilds were dealing with injuries to start the season.
With both of them sidelined, Chris Carter got the start to begin the season and ensued to tally only eight combined tackles and zero sacks. Once Harrison and Worilds were healthy, Carter was relegated to being a backup and ended up on Injured Reserve for the rest of the 2012 season. If Carter had been able to show more with the opportunity he received last season I would think he was a lock for the roster this year. With the release of Harrison, you would think the team could just keep Carter and Robinson and carry five outside linebackers again.
I really don’t see that happening this year because of the injury to Heath Miller, and the lack of depth on the offensive line and at safety. If the team concludes that Miller is not going to be ready to start the season they could decide to keep an extra tight end in David Johnson. The fact that the team always sustains injuries on the offensive line means they could keep an extra offensive lineman on the roster as well. I actually really like the players the team has on the roster at the safety position but they could decide to sign a veteran instead of going into the season with just Robert Golden and Shamarko Thomas as backups. Throw in that I believe the team really wants to possibly keep Josh Victorian or DeMarcus Van Dyke as an additional corner and there really isn’t an extra roster spot to go around this year.
Adrian Robinson showed some pass rushing potential during the Preseason yet he never saw any game action in 2012. The big knock on Robinson has been his apparent inability to play special teams which a backup linebacker must be able to do on the Steelers. He is going to have to prove he has developed since his rookie year as a special teamer and as an overall player.
Everything being even I give the edge to Chris Carter mainly because he has a year more experience on Robinson meaning he should have a better understanding of the defense. That being said if Carter gets injured, again, that would obviously severely hinder his chances to make the team. In a perfect world, Woodley would stay healthy for the entire season, Worilds and Jarvis Jones would prove to be viable options on the other side and this conversation would have been made about a guy who did nothing but play special teams. Unfortunately though, injuries are always a play away in the NFL and either Carter or Robinson could be forced to be major contributors in 2013.
Statistics from ESPN.com.