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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
RESERVE PUP LIST (1)
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.
RESERVE/SUSPENDED LIST (1)
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.
PRACTICE SQUAD (8)
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
|RESERVE PUP LIST|
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