Going into the Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 Training Camp, one of the more anticipated position battles was between David and Will Johnson at fullback. Going into camp I gave David the edge because of his blocking ability and his experience on the team though I would not have been shocked to see Will win the job. Will had displayed great athleticism and a potential to be a nice receiving threat out of the backfield and the only thing I wanted to see in camp was where he was blocking wise.
The competition started out pretty even with the edge in my opinion going to David again because of his experience. Then the competition came to an abrupt end during the Steelers’ first Preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. David Johnson tore his ACL in the loss to the Eagles and was lost for the entire 2012 season. Will Johnson then went on to have a solid season for the Steelers and should continue to develop into more of a contributor in the passing game going forward.
Unfortunately, during the Steelers week 16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals last season, the team lost more than an opportunity to make the playoffs. Heath Miller was having his best season in the NFL with 71 receptions, 816 yards and eight touchdowns before being injured in the loss. Miller blew out his knee against the Bengals, tearing multiple ligaments and it is uncertain when he’ll be able to play. Heath will be out most likely for the entirety of training camp and there is a chance he isn’t ready for week one or even starts the season on the PUP list.
With Heath’s uncertainty, the Steelers went out and signed Matt Spaeth and also have David Paulson on the roster. Spaeth is a lock to make the roster however, I could see Johnson passing Paulson on the depth chart. Paulson has shown the potential to be a receiving threat for the Steelers but he needs to become a better blocker and needs to just show a general development in his game. David Johnson is the opposite where we already know he can block, but he needs to show he can do more in the passing game, besides being completely healthy himself. Different than Heath where his injury occurred late in the season though, Johnson should be good to go since he got hurt in the very first Preseason game last year.
Everything is really going to come down to the health of Heath Miller at this point. Going into camp I see three tight ends making the roster in Heath, Spaeth and Paulson with Johnson having the only real chance at sneaking on.
Statistics from ESPN.com.