The Pittsburgh Steelers now have two preseason games in the books, but there are still several battles still going on for roster spots. The first round of cuts take place next week and the last two preseason games will be important to the 15 players that I have below that I consider to all be on the roster bubble.
Brandon Johnson – Johnson might have been helped the most by the recent knee injury suffered by Stevenson Sylvester. He has been worked both at the BUCK position and at the left outside linebacker spot through the first two games and although he really hasn\’t splashed, he might win out in the healthy body category. Although known as a strong special teams player, I haven\’t really noticed him in the first two games and hopefully that starts happening in the final two preseason games.
Baron Batch – Batch was all but locked in to the 53 man roster until Rashard Mendenhall was surprisingly removed from the PUP list. While his stats do not look good on paper, he really has ran hard and looks healthy. The intangibles are really where he sticks out as he looks solid in pass protection and his block on the Antonio Brown touchdown this past Sunday took out two Colts players. He is solid without the football in his hands and contributes on special teams. The only way he doesn\’t stick is by pure numbers at the position and nothing else.
Trai Essex – Essex has not looked good at all through the first two preseason games and has not been challenged by rookie Kelvin Beachum either. It will all come down to how many offensive linemen that Steelers decide to keep initially on the 53 man roster. If it ends up being the normal 9, his chances improve, but if my hunch is right and they only keep 8 initially, he will be out.
Corbin Bryant – It really has been tough to get firm grip on the battle between Bryant and Al Woods for the 7th defensive line spot on the roster. Woods looked the better of the two in the first preseason game while Bryant the better of the two in the second. There are still two games to sort this out, but keep in mind that Bryant does have practice squad eligibility.
Al Woods – See above.
David Gilreath – Gilreath charged ahead in the race for what could be a 5th wide receiver spot on the roster against the Colts. I am not totally convinced that the Steelers will keep 5 wide receivers initially, so he could be more than likely headed for the practice squad.
Jamie McCoy – McCoy did not flash at all at the fullback position against the Colts and he needs to show quite a bit the last two games to make the roster as a third tight end and backup fullback. The two block in the back penalties against the Eagles did not help his cause.
Terrence Frederick – Frederick has mostly seen playing time as the backup nickel corner after Cortez Allen exits the game. Will the Steelers keep 5 cornerbacks total?
Robert Golden – Golden is fighting hard for the 5th and final safety spot should the Steelers decide to keep that many for week one with Ryan Clark scheduled to be sidelined for the first game against Denver. He has played well and shows up on special teams.
Damon Cromartie-Smith – Smith is battling Golden for that 5th safety spot, but has not flashed thus far in the first two preseason games.
Adrian Robinson – Mike Tomlin might consider Robinson a one trick pony, but that one trick sure looks good through the first two games as he is constantly putting pressure on the quarterback. Due to all of the injuries at the outside linebacker spot, Robinson could indeed make the roster.
Jeremy Kapinos – Kapinos reportedly had back surgery and he will not punt until the last game against the Panthers according to the reports. It might be too late.
Drew Butler – So far Butler is winning the punter battle by default. He is inconsistent at times, but until Kapinos returns, the job is his.
Shaun Suisham – He has made all of his kicks thus far, but that is what he is paid to do.
Danny Hrapmann – He has not wilted under pressure yet and his kickoffs have been long. Can he unseat Suisham, who has three years left on his contract?