After Friday night’s drubbing at the hands of the Carolina Panthers, the Pittsburgh Steelers now turn their attention to getting their roster down to 53 men. Keep in mind that the Steelers almost always make additions and subtractions in the days following their first roster release. Whether due to injury, trade of free agent signing, Kevin Colbert and company are always making tweaks. I left the projection from my first go round in place. Any new selections are in italics.
Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins
With Josh Hobbs leaving the game with turf toe (don’t laugh as that ended the career of Jack Lambert) I believe the decision is easy for Mike Tomlin. Haskins did not play well against the Carolina starters but redeemed himself a bit when he re-entered the game in place of the injured Dobbs.
Running Backs (5)
Najee Harris, Derek Watt (FB), Anthony McFarland, Kalen Ballage,
Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell
With 17 games I think the Steelers stick with five running backs. I’m not sure how much doubt there was around Snell but he played decent enough against Carolina to warrant staying on. Cutting Ballage would almost be cruel as he’s had a very nice preseason and is deserving of a roster spot.
Wide Receivers (5)
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, James Washington and Ray Ray McCloud
I honestly believe if the Steelers could find a punt returner with better receiving skills then they would send McCloud packing. For now though he sticks.
Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry
There has been some speculation that the team could go with just two tight ends but I’m not feeling that. Gentry has put in a tremendous amount of work to better himself as a blocker and I think that’s why he stays.
Offensive Line (9)
Kendrick Green, Kevin Dotson, B.J. Finney, Trai Turner, Zach Banner, Chuks Okorafor, Dan Moore, Joe Haeg and Rashaad Coward
JC Hassenauer is a real wild-card for me. If the Steelers choose to go with 10 O-Linemen than he gets the nod but otherwise I think he’s the odd man out. No position on this team scares me more than tackle. Banner had 12 snaps in the entire preseason and is reportedly not 100%. Okorafor is just not consistent enough to be a left tackle and while Dan Moore has made great strides I’m not sure he’s ready to be a starter either.
Defensive Line (7)
Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Chris Wormley, Carlos Davis and Isaiah Buggs
Between his solid play this preseason and the investment the Steelers have in him, Wormley makes this roster. Loudermilk has flashed at times but has work ahead of him and again, if the Steelers were willing to trade up for him then he isn’t going anywhere. I’m taking the unusual step of having seven D-Linemen because there is so much uncertainty around Tuitt. The sudden loss of his brother this summer has weighed heavily on him and we don’t really know what kind of physical shape he is in. That’s the only reason for this addition.
Outside Linebackers (4)
T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Melvin Ingram,
Cassius Marsh, Quincy Roche Jamir Jones
The Steelers love their veterans but I see no reason to keep Marsh. He just doesn’t make enough plays while Jamir Jones was both a Special Teams demon and a consistently solid EDGE player. The Steelers may keep Roche on as a fifth OLB simply because they fear losing him from the Practice Squad.
Inside Linebackers (4)
Devin Bush, Joe Schobert, Robert Spillane, Buddy Johnson
Gilbert played with a lot of urgency against the Panthers and I couldn’t help but wonder where that has been all along? Johnson needs to better his game for sure at ILB but he’s an immediate Special Teams player and isn’t a lost cause should they need him on D.
Joe Haden, Cam Sutton, James Pierre,
Antoine Brooks, Mark Gilbert and Justin Layne, Arthur Maulet
Almost by default, Maulet slides in as Brooks was put on the ‘waived/injured’ list last Tuesday. Gilbert has had a very nice preseason. I like his chippy attitude and he is a willing tackler and capable coverage guy. Pierre has excelled enough in my opinion to let Sutton play inside more than we originally thought.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Miles Killebrew, Tre Norwood
Killabrew has been a pleasant surprise as a defensive player. His career has largely been built on Special Teams but he’s proven he can perform if called upon for short stints. Norwood has plenty of warts but I think they like him enough to keep him on the active roster.
Chris Boswell, Kam Canaday, Pressley Harvin III
Credit Jordan Berry for making this a competition. I thought it would be a runaway for Harvin and it wasn’t. Harvin’s hang time, distance and accuracy were just too much to overcome.
Here are some guys I see destined for the PS but I expect this to be quite fluid as other players are released across the league.
Mathew Sexton WR, Anthony Johnson WR, Shakur Brown DB, Quincy Roche OLB, John Leglue OL, Kevin Rader TE, Tony Brooks-James RB, Trey Edmunds RB