The Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Carolina Panthers Thursday night at Heinz Field, and judging by my calculations, 46 players are locks to make the Friday night 53 man roster right now. That leaves 7 spots theoretically up for grabs and 17 players with a shot at filling those spots. Some of course have better shots than others based on the position that they play.
Below is a breakdown of the 17 players that have a chance of filling those 7 remaining roster spots.
RB Baron Batch - Batch is as close of lock on this list as there is as he has been active on special teams throughout the preseason. When you consider that Rashard Mendenhall will not be ready for action until after the bye, the Steelers are very likely to keep 5 running backs total.
P Drew Butler - Jeremy Kapinos has not punted all preseason and is unlikely to punt against the Panthers. Unless the Steelers sign a punter off the waiver wire, he is nearly a lock.
T/G Trai Essex - Thanks to the injury to David DeCastro, Essex is also a virtual lock thanks to his experience and position flexibility. His only threat is rookie Kelvin Beachum or a player off the waiver wire.
TE David Paulson - The only way Paulson does not make the roster is if the Steelers decide to carry only two tight ends instead of three.
DE Al Woods - Woods continues his battle Thursday night against Corbin Bryant. Woods is not eligible for the practice squad though, while Bryant is. All of that said, this is likely a dead heat right now.
DE Corbin Bryant - If he loses the battle to Woods, Bryant is destined for the practice squad if he clears waivers.
WR David Gilreath - Gilreath likely has a leg up on Derrick Williams, but there is no guarantee that the Steelers will keep 5 receivers. If he doesn\'t make the 53 man roster, he could be a candidate for the practice squad.
WR Derrick Williams - He is on life support and once again he must contribute on special teams and hope that 5 receivers are kept.
LB Adrian Robinson - The status of both James Harrison and Jason Worilds for Denver will play a big role in whether or not the undrafted rookie makes the 53. If not, he heads to practice squad. He needs to flash on special teams Thursday night all the same.
S Robert Golden - If the Steelers keep 5 safeties for the Denver game, he is battling Damon Cromartie-Smith for that spot. Watch his special teams play Thursday night closely.
S DaMon Cromartie-Smith - If the Steelers keep 5 safeties, it is either him or Golden now.
QB Charlie Batch - Batch might lose out on the 53 on Friday thanks to the new 8 week IR rule, but his stay away might only be a few days. The Steelers need 7 inactive players for the opener, and it makes sense that he would be one of them.
QB Jerrod Johnson - Johnson is on life support right now as far as the 53 goes. His best shot is likely making the practice squad.
G/T Kelvin Beachum - Unless something happens to Essex Thursday night, the plug has already likely been pulled on the draft pick. He most likely is headed for the practice squad.
CB Terrence Frederick - The only way the draft pick makes the 53 is if the Steelers keep 5 cornerbacks. He is battling Josh Victorian, but should be ahead of him because he plays both inside and outside.
P Jeremy Kapinos - Not looking good for him at all. It would help if he actually punted once.
CB Josh Victorian - Victorian can barely see the bubble that he is outside of at this point.
Steelers Roster Locks