Notebook: Vet falls from starting lineup

Moves are happening on the South Side this week as Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin shapes the team in his image. Read below for details:

PITTSBURGH – The starting fullback last Saturday in Washington was rookie Matt Spaeth.

Spaeth, of course, a tight end, and that coincides with the direction new offensive coordinator Bruce Arians's is taking his offense.

However, Spaeth is not the reason eight-year veteran Dan Kreider is in danger of losing his roster spot.

Instead, the player threatening Kreider's job is Carey Davis.

A fullback who caught 114 passes in college, and who briefly held roster spots with Indianapolis and Atlanta, Davis has impressed the coaching staff with his running ability, special-teams play and most importantly his lead blocking. Team officials say he's now No. 1 on the depth chart at the position.

Of course, the fullback position "has kind of been a dying breed in football," according to Coach Mike Tomlin. "But the reality is situational football is big. Goal line and short yardage is where games are won and lost. ... Invariably, when the rubber meets the road – third-down-and-one and goal-to-go – people got fullbacks in the game and they better have a good one."

If the 26-year-old Davis can lead first-team backs through the hole the way he's led second-teamers, the Steelers may have one more fullback than they need.

FREE SAFETY EMERGING?

With two preseason games remaining, coaches don't want to go on record with any official proclamations, but it appears Ryan Clark is in the process of nailing down the starting free safety position.

Clark has started two of the three preseason games, and could be in line for a third start Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Tomlin called the position open, but said a frontrunner "is becoming crystal clear."

Clark's competition, Anthony Smith, did not play last week because of an abdominal injury.

THE TIMMONS REVIEW

First-round draft pick Lawrence Timmons received 11 to 12 snaps Saturday, according to Tomlin, and the coach liked what he saw from the outside linebacker.

"He has shown us splashes of what he is capable of, but this is the first time out for him and we are looking for him to take a big step this week," Tomlin said. "He showed us something when he came off the edge. We saw the explosion and things that we are interested in. But he just got his feet wet."

Timmons was used as a third-down pass-rusher, but was also moved around at times. On one play, he lined up as a cornerback.

"Yeah, that was a little bit of a situational defense where he walks out and is removed on the one wide, gets after him and stays underneath him," Tomlin said. "But that's his skill set. This guy is a talented guy. He can do a lot of things. That's why we drafted him where we drafted him. He can play out in space against some skilled athletes and hold his own; he can play on the second level as a linebacker, which is what he did in the sub-package; and he can also apply pressure off the edge. All of those things we saw on tape. All of it was attractive to us. But he's got to continue to progress and put it together here on the professional level."

INJURY REPORT

Brett Keisel, Jerame Tuman and Darnell Stapleton missed Monday's practice as Chris Hoke, Chukky Okobi and Derrick Jones returned.

Stapleton (knee) is close to returning, perhaps as early as today. Tuman is experiencing back pain and Keisel suffered minor bumps and bruises in the game.

QUOTABLE

Tomlin on his first-team offense, which was held to three first-half points Saturday:

"It's not necessarily the case because of Bruce (Arians)'s wrinkles, it's just the nature of football. Defenses generally progress better than offenses. It takes offenses a little longer to get a rhythm. It's not an excuse, just the facts."


Steel City Insider Top Stories

\r\n\r\nPITTSBURGH – The starting fullback last Saturday in Washington was rookie Matt Spaeth.\r\n

Spaeth, of course, a tight end, and that coincides with the direction new offensive coordinator Bruce Arians's is taking his offense.\r\n

However, Spaeth is not the reason eight-year veteran Dan Kreider is in danger of losing his roster spot. \r\n

Instead, the player threatening Kreider's job is Carey Davis.\r\n

A fullback who caught 114 passes in college, and who briefly held roster spots with Indianapolis and Atlanta, Davis has impressed the coaching staff with his running ability, special-teams play and most importantly his lead blocking. Team officials say he's now No. 1 on the depth chart at the position.\r\n

Of course, the fullback position \"has kind of been a dying breed in football,\" according to Coach Mike Tomlin. \"But the reality is situational football is big. Goal line and short yardage is where games are won and lost. ... Invariably, when the rubber meets the road – third-down-and-one and goal-to-go – people got fullbacks in the game and they better have a good one.\"\r\n

If the 26-year-old Davis can lead first-team backs through the hole the way he's led second-teamers, the Steelers may have one more fullback than they need.\r\n

FREE SAFETY EMERGING?\r\n

With two preseason games remaining, coaches don't want to go on record with any official proclamations, but it appears Ryan Clark is in the process of nailing down the starting free safety position.\r\n

Clark has started two of the three preseason games, and could be in line for a third start Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles.\r\n

Tomlin called the position open, but said a frontrunner \"is becoming crystal clear.\"\r\n

Clark's competition, Anthony Smith, did not play last week because of an abdominal injury.\r\n

THE TIMMONS REVIEW\r\n

First-round draft pick Lawrence Timmons received 11 to 12 snaps Saturday, according to Tomlin, and the coach liked what he saw from the outside linebacker.\r\n

\"He has shown us splashes of what he is capable of, but this is the first time out for him and we are looking for him to take a big step this week,\" Tomlin said. \"He showed us something when he came off the edge. We saw the explosion and things that we are interested in. But he just got his feet wet.\"\r\n

Timmons was used as a third-down pass-rusher, but was also moved around at times. On one play, he lined up as a cornerback.\r\n

\"Yeah, that was a little bit of a situational defense where he walks out and is removed on the one wide, gets after him and stays underneath him,\" Tomlin said. \"But that's his skill set. This guy is a talented guy. He can do a lot of things. That's why we drafted him where we drafted him. He can play out in space against some skilled athletes and hold his own; he can play on the second level as a linebacker, which is what he did in the sub-package; and he can also apply pressure off the edge. All of those things we saw on tape. All of it was attractive to us. But he's got to continue to progress and put it together here on the professional level.\"\r\n

INJURY REPORT\r\n

Brett Keisel, Jerame Tuman and Darnell Stapleton missed Monday's practice as Chris Hoke, Chukky Okobi and Derrick Jones returned.\r\n

Stapleton (knee) is close to returning, perhaps as early as today. Tuman is experiencing back pain and Keisel suffered minor bumps and bruises in the game.\r\n

QUOTABLE\r\n

Tomlin on his first-team offense, which was held to three first-half points Saturday:\r\n

\"It's not necessarily the case because of Bruce (Arians)'s wrinkles, it's just the nature of football. Defenses generally progress better than offenses. It takes offenses a little longer to get a rhythm. It's not an excuse, just the facts.\"\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" PITTSBURGH – The starting fullback last Saturday in Washington was rookie Matt Spaeth.

Spaeth, of course, a tight end, and that coincides with the direction new offensive coordinator Bruce Arians's is taking his offense.

However, Spaeth is not the reason eight-year veteran Dan Kreider is in danger of losing his roster spot.

Instead, the player threatening Kreider's job is Carey Davis.

A fullback who caught 114 passes in college, and who briefly held roster spots with Indianapolis and Atlanta, Davis has impressed the coaching staff with his running ability, special-teams play and most importantly his lead blocking. Team officials say he's now No. 1 on the depth chart at the position.

Of course, the fullback position \"has kind of been a dying breed in football,\" according to Coach Mike Tomlin. \"But the reality is situational football is big. Goal line and short yardage is where games are won and lost. ... Invariably, when the rubber meets the road – third-down-and-one and goal-to-go – people got fullbacks in the game and they better have a good one.\"

If the 26-year-old Davis can lead first-team backs through the hole the way he's led second-teamers, the Steelers may have one more fullback than they need.

With two preseason games remaining, coaches don't want to go on record with any official proclamations, but it appears Ryan Clark is in the process of nailing down the starting free safety position.

Clark has started two of the three preseason games, and could be in line for a third start Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Tomlin called the position open, but said a frontrunner \"is becoming crystal clear.\"

Clark's competition, Anthony Smith, did not play last week because of an abdominal injury.

First-round draft pick Lawrence Timmons received 11 to 12 snaps Saturday, according to Tomlin, and the coach liked what he saw from the outside linebacker.

\"He has shown us splashes of what he is capable of, but this is the first time out for him and we are looking for him to take a big step this week,\" Tomlin said. \"He showed us something when he came off the edge. We saw the explosion and things that we are interested in. But he just got his feet wet.\"

Timmons was used as a third-down pass-rusher, but was also moved around at times. On one play, he lined up as a cornerback.

\"Yeah, that was a little bit of a situational defense where he walks out and is removed on the one wide, gets after him and stays underneath him,\" Tomlin said. \"But that's his skill set. This guy is a talented guy. He can do a lot of things. That's why we drafted him where we drafted him. He can play out in space against some skilled athletes and hold his own; he can play on the second level as a linebacker, which is what he did in the sub-package; and he can also apply pressure off the edge. All of those things we saw on tape. All of it was attractive to us. But he's got to continue to progress and put it together here on the professional level.\"

Brett Keisel, Jerame Tuman and Darnell Stapleton missed Monday's practice as Chris Hoke, Chukky Okobi and Derrick Jones returned.

Stapleton (knee) is close to returning, perhaps as early as today. Tuman is experiencing back pain and Keisel suffered minor bumps and bruises in the game.

Tomlin on his first-team offense, which was held to three first-half points Saturday:

\"It's not necessarily the case because of Bruce (Arians)'s wrinkles, it's just the nature of football. Defenses generally progress better than offenses. It takes offenses a little longer to get a rhythm. 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