Mike Tomlin assessed the depth chart as “irrelevant” upon the Steelers’ arrival at St. Vincent College.
Based on the changes made in advance of preseason game No. 2 on Monday night against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md., the Steelers’ depth chart is apparently becoming relevant as it begins to come into focus.
Rookie Le’Veon Bell is now listed as the co-starter at running back along with veteran Isaac Redman. Bell had been fifth on the depth chart in advance of the preseason opener against the New York Football Giants and didn’t play in that game.
He got promoted, anyway.
“I’m going to continue to get better but I still have a lot more things to work on and I’m going to just keep working the best I can,” Bell said. “That’s really all I can
do. There’s nothing special or magic. I’ve been staying in the film room, staying in the weight room and doing what I can.
“I’m going to try to do my best. I’m not sure what they have planned for me. I’m going to keep going in there, competing and doing the best I can.”
On special teams, veteran Brian Moorman has been elevated to co-starter status at punter and holder with second-year pro Drew Butler. Moorman was second team at both positions last week.
Other changes include:
-Rookie Markus Wheaton moving up from third- to second-team wide receiver behind Emmanuel Sanders (the spot Plaxico Burress had occupied before being placed on IR). Wheaton is also the second-team punt returner this week, replacing David Gilreath, who muffed a punt against New York.
-Rookie Shamarko Thomas has joined DaMon Cromartie-Smith on the second-team line at strong safety behind Troy Polamalu. Thomas was a third-team safety last week.
-Rookie Terry Hawthrone, who practiced in pads for the first time on Monday, has taken the third-team cornerback position behind Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown (Buddy
Jackson’s spot before being released).
Rookie Jarvis Jones remains second team behind veteran Jason Worilds at outside linebacker.
Veteran defensive end Brett Keisel is pleased to such progressions based on a perceived need for new blood.
“They’ve been impressive,” Keisel said of the Steelers’ newcomers. “Wheaton’s been impressive. J.J., Jarvis has been impressive. Le’Veon has been tough, too.
“We said that in OTAs, we have to have some young guys come in and step up and play football the way we play ball. Those guys have looked good.”
They’ll have to continue to do so for the depth chart’s newfound relevance to translate into significance.
“When the regular season gets around and you know you’re going against starter-quality opponents, that’ll be the true test,” Keisel said. “When the games matter and
everything is on the line we’ll really see what these guys are capable of.”