The Pittsburgh Steelers have trimmed their roster down to 53, although by early next week, there could be a few more roster moves to the 53 as the team can’t put David DeCastro on injured reserve until September 4th.
Among the notable spots the Steelers will likely have their eye on this weekend (waiver wire) is for depth at middle linebacker, offensive line and possibly tight end.
The full list of 21 players cut today:
Punter Jeremy Kapinos, Defensive backs Damon Cromartie-Smith, Terrence Frederick and Josh Victorian, linebackers Brandon Hicks and Marshall McFadden, defensive linemen Corbin Bryant, Igbinosun Ikponmwosa and Jake Stoller, quarterback Jerrod Johnson, running back DuJuan Harris, wide receivers Tyler Beiler, Toney Clemons, David Gilreath, Marquis Maze and Derrick Williams, and offensive linemen Trai Essex, Ryan Lee, John Malecki and Chris Scott.
BREAKING DOWN 53-MAN ROSTER
Analysis: Byron Leftwich enters the season as the Steelers No. 2 QB, behind Ben Roethlisberger, despite Charlie Batch being just as capable to be the No.2. Batch making the team is the right move as he can still play and putting him on waivers to save a spot for someone else before the team puts David DeCastro on IR (Sept 4th) would have been very risky. Batch would have been intriguing to a team or two and his agent would have been actively trying to find a suitor instead of waiting for the Steelers to possibly bring him back as Batch needs the money.
Running backs (5)
Analysis: With Rashard Mendenhall not being ready for at least another four weeks, it guaranteed a spot for Baron Batch as the team will carry 5 running backs off the bat. This is an unproven group without Mendenhall healthy but has some intrigue and upside. The most intrigue for me is not about Isaac Redman in a starters role but Jonathan Dwyer who in camp has flashed a lot of ability to be a potential starter over Redman who some feel could get exposed with a heavy workload and is better suited in his typical short yardage, goal-line back role. Chris Rainey won’t provide much in the rushing department between the tackles but will play a big role as a returner and his explosive speed can make him a decoy out of the backfield or out wide in the passing game.
Analysis: The season ending injury to David Johnson secured a spot for Will Johnson at fullback who offensive coordinator Todd Haley is high on. Johnson though showed the ability in camp and in the preseason that he deserved a spot, regardless of the David Johnson injury.
Wide Receivers (4)
Analysis: Pittsburgh, as expected, will open the season with four receivers, which is one of the NFL’s best groups when healthy. The group lacks size but has great playmakers in Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace, a potential breakout player in Emmanuel Sanders and a veteran in Jerricho Cotchery who’s a complete receiver in the pass catching and run blocking department and complements Brown, Wallace and Sanders well. Cotchery won’t play a typical No. 4 receiver role.
Tight Ends (3)
Analysis: After Heath Miller, there is a lot of question marks with this group. Leonard Pope has showed nothing in the pass catching or run blocking department and if the Steelers don’t have a close eye on the waiver wire for a possible backup tight end, then they are going to be in for a rude awakening with Pope as their No. 2. Rookie David Paulson has showed some flashes as a blocker but is obviously unproven. There is disappointment that Wesyle Saunders will be suspended for the first four weeks but when he returns he has to become more consistent which frustrated the coaching staff this month in camp.
Offensive Line (9)
Analysis: David DeCastro can’t be placed on injured reserve until September 4th to be designated for the 8 week IR, so this group will be subtracted to eight. It’s possible Trai Essex returns but Essex had an awful camp after getting into Mike Tomlin’s good gracious last season with his vesatility. Kelvin Beachum is a bit of surprise to make the first 53 and with Starks, Colon, Pouncey, Foster, Gilbert, Adams and Legursky as the top-7, it’s hard to imagine Beachum being the next guy up if one of the top-7 get injured.
Defensive Line (7)
Analysis: The Steelers went seven with this group. At Nose tackle, Steve McLendon and Casey Hampton are the primary players with rookie Alameda Ta’amu not likely seeing much playing time this season. At defensive end, Ziggy Hood, Cameron Heyward, Brett Keisel will be the three main players in the rotation with Al Woods as a depth option. Woods beat out Corbin Bryant for that 4th defensive end spot. This is a group that the Steelers feel will be much more athletic with Steve McLendon primed to play a bigger role inside and likely taking over the starters role.
Analysis: Lack of depth and uncertainty at the linebacker position is unusual for the Steelers but that’s the case going into the season. James Harrison remains the big wildcard as the Steelers don’t know how his knee is going to react as he hits the practice field for the first time week. Primary backup outside linebacker Jason Worild’s wrist injury has complicated things as he goes into the season not at full strength but along with Harrison, Worilds is expected to play in Denver if things this upcoming week go as expected. Meanwhile, Stevenson Sylvester will be sidelined for a couple weeks, giving the Steelers no depth at middle inside linebacker early on. After the four starters (Woodley, Harrison, Timmons, Foote), the Steelers have Worilds, Carter and Brandon Johnson as the primary depth options going into week 1, all three players being outside linebackers with Johnson having the ability to play inside but is suited for outside. Undrafted rookie Adrian Robinson is a good story but very raw. While there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the health of this group, LaMarr Woodley looks primed for a monster season.
Analysis: This is a group the Steelers really like in Ike Taylor, Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown. They are solid with Ike Taylor and Keenan Lewis as starters but the real intrigue inside the organization surrounds Cortez Allen.
Analysis: Robert Golden’s sensational camp has the Steelers going with five safeties to open the season. After Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark though, this isn’t a very reliable group depth wise as Ryan Mundy has yet to take that next step that the coaching staff had hoped.
Special Teams (3)
K Shaun Suisham
P Drew Butler
Ls Greg Warren
Analysis: Suisham and Warren return, while rookie Drew Butler beat out Jeremy Kapinos who couldn’t get on the field. As the Steelers showed winning the Super Bowl with Mitch Berger, sometimes it doesn’t matter if you have a good punter.