2012 Steelers 53 Man Roster Prediction – Pre Training Camp Edition


The 2012 offseason period is now behind us and the Pittsburgh Steelers report to training camp in four days from today. With all of our training camp roister battle looks now completed it\’s time for me to take a shot at my second 53 man roster prediction.

Surprisingly, I did not have to change up too many things from my post draft prediction of the 53 man roster, as I even projected that the Steelers would bring back Max Starks. I also had projected that Jonathan Scott would not make the roster as a result of Starks being brought back. On the offensive side of the ball there are no changes, while on the defensive side of the ball, the only change I have made is a swap of Corbin Bryant in favor of Al Woods.

Lets now have a look at my prediction by positional groupings.


Quarterbacks (3)

No surprises here as Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch fill out the group of three. Assuming all three remain heaklthy throughout the preseason, a tall task for sure, that leaves Jerrod Johnson fighting to make the practice squad as a developmental quarterback. Right now I do not have him making it, but that in no way is out of the question from happening.

Running Backs (4)

As I noted in my first projection back in May, the Steelers normally like to keep three running backs, but by keeping Chris Rainey, they are essentially keeping a player that can serve as a 4th running back, a 6th wide receiver and as a return man. The experience at this position will definitely be lacking until Rashard Mendenhall is healthy enough to come off of the PUP list, so they will rely on Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, Baron Batch and the rookie Rainey until then. John Clay still has plenty of practice squad eligibility left, so I have him winding up there. The only way he makes the 53 man roster is by beating out Dwyer in my opinion.

Wide Receivers (5)

The top four are easy to set in Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery. Rookie Toney Clemons is the odds on favorite to win the 5th spot. That leaves Tyler Beiler and Marquis Maze left to duke it out for a practice spot and I am rolling the dice that it will be Beiler in this projection.

Tight Ends (3)

Heath Miller will be backed up by free agent Leonard Pope. Unless Weslye Saunders has his four game suspension dismissed, he will be forced to start the season on the reserve/suspended list, so that should allow rookie David Paulson to slide onto the 53 man roster until Saunders is back. At that time Paulson will likely be slid to the practice squad.

Fullbacks (1)

David Johnson versus Will Johnson for this spot and until Will gives me a reason to think otherwise, I have to go with the experience that David has.

Offensive Linemen (9)

This group is pretty easy to project as Willie Colon, Maurkice Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert, Max Starks, David DeCastro, Doug Legursky and Mike Adams are all set in stone baring injury. Ramon Foster and Trai Essex will be hard to beat out, so I now have rookie Kelvin Beachum and Chris Scott making the practice squad as a result. That gives the Steelers nine total, of which 7 will dress on gameday. The versatility, depth and experience of this group is quite exciting.


Nose Tackles (3)

The biggest question mark in this group is the health of Casey Hampton. While he will start training camp on the PUP list, I think he has a good shot at being ready by at least week two and thus can be spared starting the season on the reserve PUP list. Regardless of his health, I fully expect Steve McLendon to start at Denver to give Hampton a little more time to get fully healthy. Alameda Ta\’amu is the future and will be lucky to see much of any playing time early on. Should Hampton wind up starting the year on PUP, it could open up a spot on the roster for the loser of the Woods versus Bryant camp battle.

Defensive Ends (4)

The top three are of course Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward. After that I have Woods beating out Bryant for the fourth defensive end spot. As I mentioned above, there is room for both should Hampton start the year on PUP.

Linebackers (8)

We know that Larry Foote, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Jason Worilds and Sean Spence are all locks, so that leaves two, and at best, three linebacker spots up for grabs depending on how many safeties are kept to start the season. While Stevenson Sylvester and Chris Carter are not locks, I think both have the inside track over Mortty Ivy and Brandon Johnson. Johnson is the wild card here and certainly should press everyone in front of him.

Cornerbacks (5)

Normally the Steelers like to keep six cornerbacks, but this year I see them only keeping five with one on the practice squad. The top four are easy in Ike Taylor, Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown, so that leaves Terrence Frederick and Terry Carter as the two that will do battle in camp for the fifth spot, with the loser winding up on the practice squad. For now I see Frederick getting the spot, but it is hard to ignore the good reports on Carter during the offseason. This really could go either way with these two.

Safeties (5)

Will they keep four or five with Ryan Clark slated to miss week one in Denver? Being as they need special teams help and experience, I see Damon Cromartie-Smith being kept as a fifth to go along with Clark, Troy Polamalu, Ryan Mundy and Will Allen. Allen is a Mike Tomlin guy and a strong special teams player, so he will be hard to beat out as a result. Myron Rolle will battle Robert Golden for a spot on the practice squad and I think Golden offers more upside.


It is hard to see Greg Warren being beat out by Matt Katula, so he once again should be the long snapper. While Shaun Suisham is nothing to write home about, Danny Hrapmann, will be hard pressed to beat him out. If the Steelers choose to not keep Suisham, it will likely be because they sign a kicker that is already in camp on another team that is cut. Undrafted free agent Drew Butler will battle Jeremy Kapinos for the punting job. Until Butler gives me a reason to keep him, I have no choice but to go with Kapinos, who deserved to win the job last year in training camp.


Rashard Mendenhall will start the regular season on the reserve PUP list and thus will not count against the 53 man roster. At the minimum he must sit out for the first 6 weeks, but it likely will take him at least another month after that until he is ready to return.


Saunders will miss the first four games for testing positive for a banned substance and will not count against the 53 man roster. He has appealed the suspension, but there has yet to be any word that it will be reduced. Once he does, he most likely will replace Paulson.


This go around I have Clay, Beachum, Scott, Bryant, Golden, Carter, Robinson and Beiler making the practice squad. These names could all change quickly depending how camp and preseason goes.

2012 Steelers 53 Man Roster Prediction

7 QB Ben Roethlisberger
4 QB Byron Leftwich
16 QB Charlie Batch
33 RB Isaac Redman
27 RB Jonathan Dwyer
20 RB Baron Batch
22 RB Chris Rainey
17 WR Mike Wallace
84 WR Antonio Brown
88 WR Emmanuel Sanders
89 WR Jerricho Cotchery
11 WR Toney Clemons
53 C Maurkice Pouncey
66 G David DeCastro
73 G Ramon Foster
64 G Doug Legursky
79 T/G Trai Essex
77 T Marcus Gilbert
74 G Willie Colon
78 T Max Starks
76 T Mike Adams
83 TE Heath Miller
45 TE Leonard Pope
48 TE David Paulson
85 FB David Johnson
98 NT Casey Hampton
90 NT Steve McLendon
95 NT Alameda Ta\’amu
96 DE Ziggy Hood
99 DE Brett Keisel
97 DE Cameron Heyward
65 DE Al Woods
24 CB Ike Taylor
23 CB Keenan Lewis
31 CB Curtis Brown
28 CB Cortez Allen
37 CB Terrence Frederick
43 SS Troy Polamalu
25 FS Ryan Clark
29 S Ryan Mundy
42 S Damon Cromartie-Smith
26 S Will Allen
50 ILB Larry Foote
94 ILB Lawrence Timmons
51 ILB Sean Spence
55 ILB Stevenson Sylvester
92 OLB James Harrison
56 OLB LaMarr Woodley
93 OLB Jason Worilds
54 OLB Chris Carter
60 LS Greg Warren
13 P Jeremy Kapinos
6 K Shaun Suisham
34 RB Rashard Mendenhall
82 TE Weslye Saunders
68 G Kelvin Beachum
71 T/G Chris Scott
38 RB John Clay
30 S Robert Golden
46 OLB Adrian Robinson
19 WR Tyler Beiler
35 CB Terry Carter
91 DE Corbin Bryant

2012 Training Camp Roster Battle Post
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Linebackers
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Long Snappers
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Offensive Line
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Defensive Ends
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Wide Receivers
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Tight Ends
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Kickers
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Cornerbacks
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Safeties
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Running Backs
2012 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Roster Battles: Nose Tackles

  • Mike.H

    what it boils down to from making it on the Roster vs. Practice Squad. $400k vs. $80k. yup. major life style change.

  • grw1960

    Overall it is a well done possibility that the roster ends up very close to that. It would not surprise me though if the Steelers kept 9 LBs this seaon.
    Also I am not sure, but isn’t there something new in the rules that allows them to keep an extra player? Or is that just the game day active roster?

  • NW86

    Pretty much agree with everything you’ve said. I might go with W. Johnson over D. Johnson, and C. Bryant over A Woods. Those are really just coin flips, but my 2 are cheaper options.

    Also, I’d go with Jerrod Johnson on the practice squad over Chris Scott. I think the Scott experiment is over, and anyway they need to keep a young QB for 2 reasons.

    1. Our backups are old and brittle, and if Ben goes down we might need to pull someone up in a hurry.

    2. In the same vein, they need to get a good look at Johnson for next year so they can decide how much priority they need to put on a QB in the 2013 draft.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I pretty much agree with your pre-camp roster projection. But there are two players I’m very hesitant to put on my list: Will Allen, David Johnson.

    David Johnson was an Arians guy. He’s no longer a FB/TE hybrid. He’s now strictly a fullback (who can’t really block, or run, or catch). So what is his value? He knows the offense? Not anymore. This is a new system and new OC. Will Johnson is much faster and a much better receiver out of the back field. If shows ANY blocking ability at all I think he takes the spot.

    Will Allen was a good option when we had no other options. He is not fast, he’s got no ball skills, and no upside, IMO. He can play special teams a little and tackle a little. But so can all three of our back up safeties and I believe two of them are faster. The only thing Allen really brings to the table is that he knows LeBeau’s play book. However, he has very little actual on field experience. There’s a big difference. I thought Cromartie-Smith flat out beat Allen in T.C. and pre season last year (better ball skills, better tackling, and just more overall quickness to the ball). I feel like the only reason Allen made it was a little Tomlin prejudice. I don’t know if that will carry him this year. We are reloading with youth on defense. And we’re clearing as much cap space as possible for Wallace. Every little bit counts.

  • SteelersDepot

    Allen has played all of 46 snaps in two years with 26 coming in the last regular season game of 2010. not sure how you have been able to get a read on him when he is out on the field for kneel downs. Allen understands the role and cover 2, 3, 4 principles well. A good special teamer and a quality locker room guy. He will be tough to beat out in what will likely be his final year.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    My opinion on Allen vs Cromartie-Smith comes mostly from the pre-season games in 2010 in 2011. I watched all 8 games, and in my mind, it seems like they both had way more than 46 snaps (but i’ll have to do some digging). I know they were just about even in tackles both years, but to me Cromartie Smith looked much more explosive on tape. I’ll watch the safeties specifically again in this year’s pre-season games and report back.

    I don’t doubt that Allen knows the playbook or that he’s a good locker room guy, but I think he counts something like $1.6 million against the cap. To me that’s a nice little chunk of change for a 30 year old who never really plays. Again, this is not a Sylvester vs. Foote case for the starting job at ILB. We’re talking back up safeties who mainly just run down the field on special teams (where most of the kick offs are now touch backs anyway). This may be a case where Colbert/Kahn have a slight disagreement with Tomlin/LeBeau.

  • No mention of Adrian Robinson. I heard that the Steelers have been impressed with him so far.

  • SteelersDepot

    I have him listed on the practice squad. Also read more of my thoughts on him here: http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/07/2012-pittsburgh-steelers-training-camp-roster-battles-linebackers/

  • SteelersDepot

    46 snaps in regular season play over last 2 years, not preseason. Allen is going to be tough to keep off roster and they have PLENTY of room for his $1.605 cap hit this year.

  • Ryan Lee?

  • SteelersDepot

    Don’t see him making the practice squad myself over Beachum.

  • Steeltyke

    Have the Steelers (or any team) ever considered keeping an Olineman as the long snapper thus giving them extra depth on the Oline? He would, of course, have to be able to long snap well. It just seems a logical thing to do rather than having a guy on the roster who can’t do anything else but long snap. I heard that Beachum had been learning to long snap to add to his versatility.

  • SteelSpine

    Good catch, regarding both DJohnson & WAllen.

    I’ve seen David Johnson make plenty of good runblocks downfield, but that might be a minimum standard for FBs. Can’t trust his hands to make a catch, & people in his position at-minimum need to have reliable hands. Hasnt turned out to be anything so special that free-agent FBs couldnt beat out in a new system.

    Will Allen’s $1.6 mil this year indeed high for what we’ve gotten outta him. Having that cap space should not mean keep him, could use that space to help bring in a free agent, i.e a better prospect for OLB or to bring in FAs when a key player elsewhere on our team gets hurt in preseason. What we dont know is which players best-know LeBeau’s schemes, because coaches keep that secret & any fan who says they discern by watching should try to explain why Mundy still on team after getting juked more times in history than any 60-year old jukebox. Steelers brass must give a hard look at all our backup safeties. Troy gets injuried annually & Ryan Clark will never be allowed to play in Denver (what if we go to Denver in playoffs again??). Another reason the brass needs to look very hard at all our backup safeties is to see if there could be any chance that we might not have to spend our #1 or #2 draft pick on a safety in next draft.

  • JohnnyV1

    Like most of it. I do see a possible surprises… on the OL, LB, S and Specialists. I think OL Foster or Essex is gone (cut or traded) and Beachum is kept. KC spoke highly of Beachum recently and I think the team is tired of seeing their cut OL draft picks get picked up and start elsewhere. I think one of LB Johnson, Robinson, or Hicks makes it. For S, I think rookie Golden makes it, and either Allen or D C-Smith goes. Specialist, I think we’ll have a new P or K this season, at some point.

  • SteelersDepot

    Care to share who the last draft pick linemen was that was cut during his rookie season and was signed by another team.

  • toonasteel

    Dave. Can you expound upon why you pick Woods over Bryant? I know Tunch et al thought Bryant was a great prospect.


  • SteelersDepot

    Really a coin flip at this point. Woods has more NFL game experience and Bryant has practice squad eligibility. It is going to be one of the better battles to watch in camp.

  • Thanks. I missed him on the practice squad part.

  • DoctorNoah

    I still think Myron Rolle is going to at least make the practice squad. Does anyone know why he didn’t stick in Tennessee?

  • JohnnyV1

    OG Kraig Urbik (3rd Rd ’09) and OG Keith WIlliams (6th Rd ’11) are the two I can think of. To be clear, I didn’t say “cut during his rookie season”. While Urbik did stay one year in Pittsburgh, he now starts for Buffalo. Williams started 3-4 games for Buffalo last year. Just providing the reason why, along with solid play and possible good potential, they might keep Beachum.