Preliminary 53 man roster
The Steelers have to cut down their roster to 53 by Saturday afternoon and they will make most of their roster cuts on Friday.
Here is a quick look at our preliminary 53 man roster leading into tonight’s game. I have tried to based the projected on rumblings we’re hearing, not how we feel the roster should be. Our final roster projection will be updated Friday morning.
The Steelers toughest decisions will come at Wide Receiver, Linebacker and at cornerback.
Quarterbacks (2) – Byron Leftwich, Dennis Dixon
Analysis: There have been strong indications for about a week now that the Steelers have been leaning in the direction of carrying only two quarterbacks to open the season. At first look it appeared to be the best move to give the Steelers position flexibility elsewhere for the first four weeks but now I’m not so sure. In the end though, I believe the team will release Charlie Batch.
Running backs (4) – Rashard Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore, Isaac Redman, Frank Summers.
Analysis: Jonathan Dwyer to the practice squad. Steelers like his potential but he has just too many mental mistakes. Summers is locked in the No. 4 spot and team loves his ability on special teams.
Wide receivers (6) – Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Antwaan Randle El, Arnaz Battle, Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown
Analysis: Ward, Wallace, and Randle El are locked in as the Steelers top 3 receivers. Sanders is a lock to make the team but the No. 4 receiver spot on gamedays is still undecided. Brown will make the team which gives the Steelers five. The final decision will come down to Arnaz Battle or Tyler Grisham. There’s a belief that Grisham is the 4th best receiver on this team and he surprisingly remains in the mix. The Steelers though gave Battle a three year contract, signing bonus of $975,000 and has close ties to special teams coach Al Everest. The Steelers also claim Battle is extremely good on special teams coverage units but Battle has not had any kind of impact in the preseason. A strong case is being made for the 30 year old Battle not to make the team but all signs point towards him making it.
Tight ends (3) – Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, David Johnson
Analysis: Those three are locked in at the position. There is no sleeper in the mix.
Offensive linemen (9) – Max Starks, Chris Kemoeatu, Maurkice Pouncey, Trai Essex, Flozell Adams, Ramon Foster, Doug Legursky, Jonathan Scott, Tony Hills.
In the end, the Steelers will likely release Justin Hartwig if they are unable to trade him. There’s some sentiment to keep him around but he adds little position flexibility which makes it highly unlikely that he will be active on game days. The Steelers only dress seven offensive linemen.
2009 third round pick Kraig Urbik had made baby steps of late and appears much more comfortable at center. The Steelers would like to keep him around but not at the expense of Ramon Foster. The best case scenario is for Urbik to continue to develop on the practice squad.
Defensive linemen (6) – Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood, Chris Hoke, Nick Eason.
Analysis: The Steelers kept seven last year and if they do Sunny Harris will win that spot. There’s still an outside shot that Harris makes it over Nick Eason but with Ziggy Hood showing signs that he might not be ready to contribute at the level some thought he would, Eason becomes the more likely choice. 7th round pick Doug Worthington is having a nice camp and the Steelers will look to sign him to the practice squad.
Linebackers (9) – LaMarr Woodley, James Farrior, James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons, Larry Foote, Keyaron Fox, Jason Worilds, Patrick Bailey, Stevenson Sylvester
Analysis: The Steelers carried eight last season and are expected to carry nine this season. The top 7 are locks but the difficult decision is at the No. 8 and No. 9 spots. My surprise is Patrick Bailey making the team over 4th round pick Thaddeus Gibson.
The Steelers like Gibson’s potential but he’s not ready to contribute and has not make the impact on special teams that some hoped he would.
Bailey is regarded by the team as a special teams ace and if anyone has noticed, the Steelers special teams units remain a mess.
Cornerbacks (6) – Ike Taylor, Bryant McFadden, William Gay, Keenan Lewis, Crezdon Butler, Joe Burnett
Analysis: Crezdon Butler is the major wildcard. He’s been on the outside looking in but all he does it make plays and there’s speculation that the Steelers may not be able to sneak him onto the practice squad. That’s enough for him to possibly make the team. The other wildcard is Anthony Madison who I strongly believe will make the team.
Safeties (4) – Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Will Allen, Ryan Mundy
Specialists (4) – K Jeff Reed, P Daniel Sepulveda, LS Greg Warren, CB Anthony Madison
Analysis: I have Madison listed as a specialist, which would surprisingly prompt the Steelers to in reality open up the season with seven cornerbacks. Again, the positive of keeping two quarterbacks gives the Steelers position flexibility for the first four weeks. I just can’t see the Steelers making the same mistake two years in a row when their special team coverage units are still suspect. Greg Warren will also keep his spot as the Steelers long snapper over Matt Stewart.
Roster Exempt: Ben Roethlisberger