As promised, here are some young guys who have looked pretty good thus far during the offseason and training camp who I'll be keeping a close eye on in the Steelers' preseason opener:
© Dallas Baker, WR, No. 81 - Baker looks much more confident this season than last. The 2007 seventh-round pick has good size and has shown an ability to get open – when nobody is hiting him (Anthony Smith aside). Now will come the true test.
© Roy Lewis, CB, No. 30 – Lewis has stepped up and made some plays in training camp and has also played some safety as well as corner. His versatility could give him a roster spot if he can beat out Anthony Madison, but special teams will be key.
© Travis Williams, CB, No. 31 – Like Lewis, Williams is an interesting kid. He doesn't double as a safety, but he's a return man as well as being a corner. He won't get a shot to return against the Eagles, but likely will against the Bills next week. If he shows something as a gunner against Philadelphia, it's a plus.
© Martavius Prince, NT, No. 96 – Prince has a lightning quick first step. He probably can't win a roster spot this year at nose tackle, but this is a guy who could be the next Chris Hoke, somebody who continues to hang around and turns into a player.
© Mike Humpal, LB, No. 55 – Humpal missed some time because of a hamstring injury, but it will be interesting to see if he's the special teams demon the Steelers expected him to be when they took him in the sixth round of the draft. He looks like a pretty good coverage linebacker.
© Micah Rucker, WR, No. 87 – Rucker will look like a tight end out there. But the 6-6, 221-pounder is a receiver with great big hands. This kid could be the next Walter Young, a guy who hangs around for a few years but never amounts to much. Or he could wind up being a great find down the road. He's way more athletic than Young, though.
© Scott Paxson, DT. No. 71 – With Casey Hampton out, Paxson will play with the second team defensive unit. Can he hold up against another team's quality backups?