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NFL Pittsburgh Steelers

Top 5 Position Battles to Watch with Pittsburgh Steelers This Summer

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Top 5 Position Battles to Watch This Summer

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I know the start of NFL training camps is a couple of months away, but I just couldn’t resist from looking down the road to see which training camp battles will be the most intriguing for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Unlike last year, this season’s training camp for Pittsburgh shouldn’t have any off-the-field distractions regarding contracts, and we can only hope that injuries won’t rear their ugly head again.

An offseason that once appeared to be dismal ended up shedding some light on the Steelers’ upcoming 2013 season. Pittsburgh had arguably the best class of rookies this year, some of which could make a big impact on the team’s success. In addition, the organization signed some free agents for depth and experience to further enhance their roster.

There are definitely some positions that will have some stiff competition in this summer’s training camp in Latrobe, PA for much lower spots on the depth chart. However, there are five battles for starting positions that can decide just how successful Pittsburgh will be in 2013.

Offensively, both the ground attack and the aerial assault could possibly have some young, new faces in the starting lineup. On the other side of the ball, someone new will definitely fill one position that was left vacant due to free agency, while another position will have either a four-year veteran or a first-round rookie draft pick in its spot.

Regardless of the decision made by the Steelers’ coaching staff, I feel that my top five position battles for this year’s training camp will heighten the level of competition, and bring excitement to Saint Vincent College in July.

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5. Tight End: David Johnson vs. David Paulson

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Though either David Johnson or David Paulson may not start the entire season in 2013, how the tight end spot is filled at the beginning of the season will be huge. Of course, all of this is under the assumption that Heath Miller isn’t able to play after reconstructive knee surgery.

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4. Cornerback: William Gay vs. Cortez Allen

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The departure of cornerback Keenan Lewis left many wondering who will start opposite Ike Taylor on defense in 2013. The Steelers welcomed back William Gay to help fill some holes in the secondary, but a starting spot won’t be guaranteed for him with Cortez Allen breathing down his neck.

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3. Wide Receiver: Emmanuel Sanders vs. Markus Wheaton

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Pittsburgh’s decision to retain Emmanuel Sanders and to draft Markus Wheaton made their receiving corps look better than many thought it would. Though Sanders is penciled in as the number-two receiver, Wheaton’s versatility as a deep threat and a possession receiver could possibly win him the starting job.

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2. Running Back: Isaac Redman vs. Jonathan Dwyer vs. Le’Veon Bell

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Last season’s running game was atrocious. Though the offensive line can take some of the blame for that, the Steelers’ backfield didn’t do much to help matters. It’s pretty evident that newly acquired running back LaRod Stephens-Howling will be the team’s third-down back. That leaves veterans Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer as well as rookie Le’Veon Bell to duke it out for the starting running back spot.

If you ask me, this job has Bell’s name written all over it.

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1. Outside Linebacker: Jason Worilds vs. Jarvis Jones

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Hands down, this will be the matchup that everyone will be looking at. Traditionally, Pittsburgh goes with the next man in line for a starting position, and in this case, Jason Worilds is slated to be the next starting outside linebacker on the right side.

However, the Steelers selected Jarvis Jones, the nation’s best pass rusher, with the 17th overall pick in this year’s draft. If Jones produces in training camp and the preseason like he did while in college, then he just could be the first rookie defensive starter the Steelers have had in a number of years.

Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google