As Saturday approaches the Steelers once again have to decide if they want to go down to Miami with just 5 healthy defensive linemen or do they want to once again bring Steve McLendon up from the practice squad. In my opinion I think they should roll with just 5, but it is not carved in stone and it is very risky to do. If McLendon is promoted on Saturday, someone needs to be released and I thought I would take a look at the who I think the bottom 5 on the roster are and the least riskiest to expose to the waiver wire.
Tony Hills – Although we do not fully know the health status of rookie lineman Chris Scott, who is currently still on PUP, he has to be getting close. If you released Hills and were not able to get him back after clearing waivers, Scott likely could be activated off of PUP if healthy to take his place. Hills has underperformed since day one and is not versatile either. In my opinion he truly is the 53rd man on the roster right now and it would not surprise me to see him released Saturday so McLendon can be activated.
Arnaz Battle – It seems the Steelers are very happy with the progress of rookie Emmanuel Sanders and he got the 4th receiver snaps against Cleveland this past Sunday in 4 wide sets. Battle was brought in mostly for his special teams play and has recorded 2 tackles this year thus far on special teams. If he did not clear waivers, the Steelers would likely start activating both Antonio Brown and Sanders on gameday and expect more out of both on special teams. I would consider Battle the 52nd or 51st man on the roster right now.
Anthony Madison – Madison is what he is and that is a special teams warrior. You hate to lose him for that fact alone, but because it is his lone calling card of what he brings to the team, it puts him in the bottom 5 on the roster. Madison would be a 50/50 shot to clear waivers and if he didn\’t, Keenan Lewis would likely starting getting a Sunday helmet and expected to help fill the special teams void left by Madison. I consider Madison right there with Battle as the 52nd or 51st man on the roster right now.
Mewelde Moore – I really like MeMo and over the years as he always has justified his roster spot, but it is evident that his skills are diminished now. He no longer is dependable on blitz pick-up on 3rd downs and it is effort related. He knows when and where defenders are coming from, he just fails to get the job done too many times now. Isaac Redman has blown past him as both a ball carrier and blocker and this puts Moore closer to the chopping block now. His special teams play and the slow development of rookie Jonathan Dwyer helps him from being closer to the bottom. I do not think he will be out the door any time soon, but it would not surprise either if he is not on the roster come December.
Charlie Batch – Based on the inactive list for the Browns game this past Sunday, Byron Leftwich was healthy enough to be the back-up to Ben Roethlisberger as Batch was listed as the emergency #3 QB this past week. With that distinction, it automatically puts you at the bottom of the roster. Batch still likely could be the #2 elsewhere in the league depending on injuries, so he is no lock to return if released. I would hate to see him go from a knowledge stand point, but it is a reality.
In closing, I think Hills would be a big body for big body swap if McLendon is needed this week. Also keep in mind that Trai Essex should be healthy enough to provide depth on the line this week so that means Hills once again will assuredly be inactive. We will find out in about 24 hours or so if any move will be made.