<
>

Spotlight on Le'Veon Bell's backups to start Steelers camp

play
Riddick: Bell 'taking a big gamble on himself' (1:19)

Louis Riddick is surprised Le'Veon Bell did not accept the Steelers' contract offer as he is betting on himself heading into the 2018 season. (1:19)

The Pittsburgh Steelers open training camp July 25 at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Here's a closer look at the Steelers' camp:

Top storyline: Where's Le'Veon? Life without star back Le'Veon Bell has become an expectation after two years of rocky franchise-tag negotiations. Players have wised up to NFL business and know Bell might not be around for a while. The Steelers must adjust. Bell, who missed camp last year, averaged 3.46 yards per carry in his first three games upon return. The Steelers need contingency plans to avoid another slow start.

QB depth chart: Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Joshua Dobbs, Mason Rudolph. The Steelers have four quarterbacks and three spots. They will start Roethlisberger, develop rookie Rudolph and name either Jones or Dobbs a primary backup. Jones has experience and has grown into a capable quarterback, which a contending team should value. But if Dobbs and Rudolph have solid preseasons, perhaps Jones will have trade value.

Bubble watch: Running back Stevan Ridley. Ridley is a former 1,000-yard rusher who can create a role in the Steelers' depth chart, but the numbers game will be difficult to navigate upon Bell's return. Former third-round pick James Conner eyes a productive sophomore season, and fifth-round rookie Jaylen Samuels is an intriguing pass-catching option. That leaves two veterans, Ridley and Fitz Toussaint, working to solidify a role.

This rookie could start: First-round safety Terrell Edmunds will open camp behind Morgan Burnett and Sean Davis, but the Steelers might find a way to get Edmunds on the field early. His athleticism showed up in offseason workouts, and he's the kind of back-end communicator the Steelers covet. Edmunds could see the field as a dime linebacker or a third safety in Year 1.

Cornering the market: The Steelers are experiencing their best corner depth in years. They have three solidified starters in Joe Haden, Artie Burns and Mike Hilton. They like the development of Cam Sutton, veteran Coty Sensabaugh has 33 career starts and Brian Allen is a fun 6-foot-3 project with a high ceiling. There's no reason why Pittsburgh should duplicate last season's 28th-ranked passing defense.

Age ain't nothing ...: A franchise that once held onto aging veterans has gotten noticeably youthful in recent years. Twenty-nine players on the 90-man roster are 23 years old or younger. The Steelers have four players over 30, with Roethlisberger, 36, the only one older than 32. The youth movement is a byproduct of league trends but also the Steelers' desire to get faster, particularly on defense.