The 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers have about a good of a chance of making the NFL playoffs as you or I do have landing a seat on the first manned mission to Mars…. Mike Tomlin has vowed to fight on nonetheless, which is a good decision.
- But the decision does carry certain downsides for a couple of players….
Evaluating talent is one of the more difficult tasks that any NFL coach or General Manager must make. There are certain quantifiables, countables, and intangibles that must be taken into consideration, compared, and weighed against team needs.
An NFL coach or GM has to weigh all of these factors when looking at rookies which is hard enough.
- Then they’ve got to take one more factor into consideration which gums up the works considerably: Potential.
Potential makes this job all the more challenging, because it involves speculation. “Ok, this guy doesn’t have what it takes now, but I’m betting he will later.” The story of former Steelers and current Bengals Linebacker James Harrison is well known. Harrison was signed and released at least a half dozen times. Clearly Harrison didn’t have “it” in 2002 and 2003, yet he had enough potential for coaches to continue calling him back.
Potential is fine, but there comes a time in every young players career where coaches stop measuring potential and turn an eye towards production. As the Steelers head into the final three game stretch of 2013, there are 3 players who most certainly need to be about the business of transforming potential into production.
The Future is Now for these 3 Young Steelers
Paulson of course joined the Steelers as one of three tight ends taken in the 2012 NFL Draft. And although only a rookie, Paulson began working himself into the roster, and flashed “potential” as a competent pass catching NFL Tight End, finishing the season with 7 catches.
Injuries to Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth allowed Paulson to start the season as the team’s number two tight end. Paulson was clearly not up to the task. He did continue to show himself as a threat in the passing game, but had that critical fumble vs. Cincinnati.
- And Paulson’s blocking ability has been woeful at best.
Even before Matt Spaeth’s return, Paulson has been invisible in the Steelers offense. Suffice to say, during these last three games he needs to make the “P” stand for production.
Beelieve it or not, deep in the bowels of the internet, there was talk that if the development of Robert Golden and Shamarko Thomas had been strong enough in Latrobe, that the Steelers would actually part ways with veteran safety Ryan Clark.
Clearly that did not happen. And that in and of itself is no net knock on Golden. Neither is the fact that Thomas has gotten preference over Golden. But the Steelers were big on Golden in 2012 and had high hopes for him in 2013. But this fact is more damming – The Steelers resigned Will Allen at their first opportunity, and have relied on him during Shamarko Thomas’ injury rather than depend on Golden.
With Ryan Clark probably won’t be back in 2014 and Troy Polamalu might not either. The Steelers will select a safety somewhere in the 2014 NFL Draft. Golden needs to setup it up now, lest management decide to make safety a premium pick.
During training camp in 2011, Pittsburgh Post Gazette writer Gerry Dulac went out on a limb and said that Chris Carter could end up being a the steal of the 2011 NFL Draft.
That was 3 full seasons ago, and Steelers Nation is still waiting for Carter to develop. Carter got a shot at starting at outside linebacker in 2012 when Harrison and Jason Worilds were injured and he did not capitalize on the opportunity.
- This year Carter has been more invisible, not only on defense, but also on special teams.
It may be too late for Carter to secure a future with the Pittsburgh Steelers, regardless of what he does in these last three games, and regardless of decisions management makes about LaMarr Woodley, Worilds, and Jarvis Jones.
But if Carter makes the field, he’ll be playing for an invitation to an NFL Training Camp some where.
The ironic thing is that each of these players has seen their role limited or reduced in 2013. They may get few if any chances in the final three weeks. But all of them need to take full advantage should those opportunities come.
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