Former Steelers QB Charlie Batch thinks the team will try to groom Landry Jones to eventually replace Ben Roethlisberger.
"Maybe two years from now, he could be our guy for the next 10 years," Batch said. "We don't know. But with the contracts for quarterbacks these days, he'd certainly be a heck of a lot cheaper than Ben at age 34 or 35 or 36." It's a bit of a reach to project Jones as an eventual NFL starter. He has the arm for it, but struggles when under pressure. The fourth-round project should be happy if he sticks in the league for 10 years as a backup.
ESPN.com's AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley thinks No. 111 pick Shamarko Thomas will likely start for the Steelers in 2014.
Free safety Ryan Clark, 34 in October, will be a free agent next offseason, and SS Troy Polamalu, 32, has just two years left on his contract. Polamalu has also had trouble staying healthy. Thomas is a big-time hitter, but he doesn't cover all that well. He'll work as Pittsburgh's No. 3 safety in 2013.
Steelers LBs coach Keith Butler says it would be "miraculous" if 2012 third-round pick Sean Spence played football again.
Spence destroyed his left knee last preseason, tearing his ACL and LCL, dislocating the knee, and suffering a damaged nerve behind the knee. GM Kevin Colbert previously called it an "unknown injury" in the sport. The Steelers do plan to carry Spence on a reserve list in 2013 to see if he can contribute by 2014.
Steelers OC Todd Haley acknowledged that he anticipates No. 48 pick Le'Veon Bell being a "factor" as a rookie.
The Steelers don't love gifting rookies starting jobs, but they are penciling in Bell. "Running back is a position, probably more so than most, that you have a chance to come in and make an impact," said Haley. "Obviously, there's a lot of work ahead of him. He's a young guy, but he's coming from a pro-style offense. A lot of the runs will be very similar to the runs that he was running. So I expect him to get into the mix and be a factor."
Coach Mike Tomlin isn't guaranteeing No. 17 pick Jarvis Jones a spot in the Steelers' starting lineup.
He'll compete with former second-round disappointment Jason Worilds opposite LaMarr Woodley. "I think it's a daunting task for rookies to start in any system and play and perform well," said Tomlin. "This is about people taking advantage of opportunities so he'll be given that." Jones was widely considered the most pro-ready edge rusher in the draft. We expect him to beat out Worilds.
Steelers signed San Diego State G Nik Embernate.
Embernate (6-foot-3 3/4, 305) was nicknamed "Embernasty" in college for his physical play, often to the point of inducing penalties. He started 46 games for the Aztecs, all at guard. Embernate showed some athleticism at his Pro Day with a 5.15 forty and 26 1/2-inch vertical. He did 21 reps on the bench. Once Embernate develops, he could grow into a Richie Incognito-type player. The Steelers don't have much depth along the offensive line.