The Pittsburgh Steelers third preseason game is now in the books and once again it is time to take another stab at a 53 man roster prediction.
Before you just jump straight to the comments, make sure to read my reasoning so you know where am I coming from on this prediction.
This morning on The Terrible Podcast I was thinking one way and since the news about James Harrison and Jason Worilds being removed from the PUP surfaced, I have once again switched course from what I stated in the Tuesday show. We all await the final word on David DeCastro after his surgery that is scheduled for Wednesday.
Here are my previous roster projections dating back to just before the draft.
Below is my explanation of my current numbers.
QB (3) - I still cant convince myself that the Steelers will cut Charlie Batch and carry only 2 quarterbacks on the 53 man roster, especially after Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that Batch will play a lot Thursday night. Why would he risk injury to veteran he was going to cut a day later and have to guarantee the salary? It just does not add up, but of course I could be over thinking it. Also, someone needs to take the 7th spot on the inactive list. If not him, who?
RB (5) - Mendenhall will be inactive the first few weeks and with Isaac Redman not 100% yet, it makes sense to keep Baron Batch, who continues to play a big role on special teams. I still have them keeping 5 running backs total.
WR (4) - As I stated previously, Todd Haley very rarely uses four wide receiver sets and Chris Rainey gives the ability to serve as a receiver should injuries strike in a game. Batch and David Paulson can too for that matter. David Gilreath shows the most promise to keep on the practice squad in my eyes. I think they carry 4 to start. Mike Wallace will be ready and that was the only real question mark.
FB (1) -Will Johnson is the only fullback after Jamie McCoy was released. If he gets injured, Leonard Pope will get the remaining snaps there when needed.
TE (3) - I now believe Paulson will make the roster as a third tight end and an emergency wide receiver until Weslye Saunders returns from his suspension.
OL (9) - As it looks right now, the Steelers plan on carrying DeCastro on the 53 man roster. This could change depending on how his Wednesday surgery goes, but the winner here is Trai Essex as he moves back inside the bubble, as he can play all 5 positions on the line. I have both Kelvin Beachum and Ryan Lee making the practice squad.
NT (3) - This should be self explanatory with Steve McLendon, Casey Hampton and rookie Alameda Ta\'amu all making the 53. If Hampton is healthy for the opener, Ta\'amu will be inactive.
DE (4) - This continues to be a tough battle and too close to call in my eyes as both have looked good so far in the preseason. For now I will stick with Al Woods and have Corbin Bryant returning to the practice squad.
LB (9) - Thanks to the knee injury to Stevenson Sylvester, Brandon Johnson is a lock to make the roster. He can play both inside and outside and plays on all of the special teams units. He might have been a lock even before that. The activation of Harrison and Worilds from the PUP list cleared up a lot of uncertainty at this position numbers wise. Also Mortty Ivy was waived injured with a hamstring injury, so that is another player no longer needed to worry about. Assuming Worilds is healthy enough to play in the opener, I think he will cost Adrian Robinson his shot at the 53 man roster and thus he stays on my practice squad. Ultimately the DeCastro injury might have hurt Robinson as well.
CB (4) - If the Steelers keep a 5th safety for week 1 with Ryan Clark sidelined, I have no choice but to carry just 4 cornerbacks for week 1. The only other way they keep a 5th is by releasing Batch, but once again, you need 7 inactive players. Woods would be the only option then I believe. I have rookies Terrence Frederick and Josh Victorian both making the practice squad.
S (5) - I have really battled myself here between Damon Cromartie-Smith and Robert Golden. Golden continues to stick out and we will see if he gets early looks on special teams instead of Cromartie-Smith Thursday night. This battle is like the Woods versus Bryant one. I don\'t think the coaching staff has made up their mind yet on this one.
K (1) - Danny Hrapmann is gone, so unless the Steelers sign another free agent vetreran kicker off the wire, Shaun Suisham makes the 53 as the kicker.
P (1) - Jeremy Kapinos has yet to punt and so Drew Butler wins the job uncontested.
LS (1) - I have been in the corner of Greg Warren the whole time and the release of Matt Katula makes this easy.
IR (1) - David Johnson and hopefully that is it. we will see if DeCastro ends up here.
SUSP (1) - Saunders and hopefully that is it.
PS (8) - This week it is Beachum, Lee, Robinson, Victorian, Johnson, Bryant, Frederick and Gilreath, but this is subject to change in my final one.
Summation: Three quarterbacks versus two quarterbacks, Woods versus Bryant, Golden versus Cromartie-Smith and the uncertainty about DeCastro are still unanswered questions in my mind.
2012 Steelers Post Preseason Game 3 Edition 53 Man Roster Prediction