7 Steelers who need to start against the Browns in Week 17

Justin Layne Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Justin Layne Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
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Carlos Davis #73 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Carlos Davis

One of the Steelers primary strengths is the talent and depth they have along the defensive line. While he has only played sparingly, seventh-round rookie Carlos Davis has held his own along the line. He hasn’t been flashy, nor has he been able to get to the quarterback, but he has consistently held his own when being blocked. With the line likely to take it easy this Sunday, it could be a huge opportunity for Davis to showcase a more well-rounded game.

Davis has seemingly traded playing time with fellow reserve Isaiah Buggs. Both pose similar heights, but Davis is by far the stouter player. He seems like a better fit at nose tackle while Buggs has value at both nose and defensive end. Likewise, Davis seems like the better run defender, something that could be key with the Browns talented rushing attack. Both of these guys should play, but it would make sense for Davis to see more of his snaps at nose tackle.

Finally, with Tyson Alualu’s contract up at the end of this season and the fact that he is an older veteran, there is little guarantee that he returns next year. To be frank, his run defense has been nearly elite, and the Steelers will need a player to step up and replace him if it comes to that. Davis is the logical first option, as he has flashed in limited tape and looked like a good run defender in college. Having a strong game this Sunday will be key in him carving out a role on the defense next season.