The Pittsburgh Steelers have now made their first round of cuts following their third preseason game and with a little more than one week to go until the roster must be set at 53 players, there are several defensive players left on the roster that are fighting for just a few available spots.
Here now is a look at the 16 defensive players that are either inside or outside the bubble right now.
Marshall McFadden – ILB – Baring an injury, McFadden is lock to make the 53 man roster right now that Stevenson Sylvester is gone and he is perhaps the safest player on this list.
Brian Arnfelt – DE – The undrafted free agent has been a pleasant surprise and has played 100 snaps in the first three preseason games. Now that Nick Williams has been placed on injured reserve, Arnfelt is nearly a lock to make the practice squad should he not crack the final 53 man roster.
Alan Baxter – OLB – Like Arnfelt, Baxter has really played well during his 73 preseason snaps as he has registered two sacks and five hurries at outside linebacker. Should he not make the final 53 man roster, the Steelers will try to get him to the practice squad.
Vince Williams – ILB – Williams had an unfortunate penalty Saturday night, but for the most part the sixth-round draft pick has played well. He has logged a lot of snaps on special teams so far, so you have to like his chances of making the final 53. At worst, the Steelers will try to get him to the practice squad.
Brian Rolle – ILB – Rolle has played alongside McFadden quite a bit with the second-string defense and now that Sylvester is gone you have to like his chances at making the final 53 man roster. He is out of practice squad eligibility, so either he does or he’s gone for good.
Kion Wilson – ILB – Wilson is likely battling Rolle or Williams for a roster spot, but he does have practice squad eligibility should he not make the 53.
Josh Victorian – CB – Victorian hasn’t been at his best this preseason and he didn’t help his cause Saturday night when he whiffed on the 109-yard kickoff return. One of Victorian’s weaknesses is that he is not a reliable tackler and that trait is a must for Steelers cornerbacks. He still has practice squad eligibility should he not make the roster.
Chris Carter – OLB – The release of Sylvester just might help Carter who has been invisible throughout the preseason. His status really depends on how many total linebackers are kept and if the team values his special team play over that of Baxter. While it might sound funny, I think Carter is still eligible for the practice squad being as he hasn’t been active for nine games in any one season.
DaMon Cromartie-Smith – S – Outside of his whiff that led to a blocked punt in the preseason opener, Cromartie-Smith has played fairly well on defense. He only played four snaps on defense Saturday night however, so either he got injured or the coaching staff wanted to see the rest of the depth chart. The safety is out of practice squad eligibility so he needs to hope the team keeps five safeties in order for him to make the roster.
Alameda Ta’amu – NT – Ta’amu did not play any defensive snaps Saturday night and that is never a good sign. He is battling not only Arnfelt for a roster spot, but Fangupo as well. You would think that he will get every opportunity to show what he has Thursday night in the preseason finale.
Hebron Fangupo – NT – Fangupo is in the same boat as Ta’amu, but even he only managed five snaps of playing time Saturday night.
Isaiah Green – CB – Green missed the game Saturday night with an undisclosed injury and it could severely hurt his chances at making the roster. He played fairly well in the first two preseason games, but unless he makes an impact on special teams, his best shot will be the practice squad.
Terry Hawthorne – CB – The rookie draft pick is finally healthy and now battling Victorian and Green for a roster spot. You would have to think the Steelers will only keep six cornerbacks at most, so he really needs to show something on special teams in the preseason finale or else he will be destined for a spot on the practice squad.
Terence Garvin – ILB – At best, Garvin is fighting for a spot on the practice squad with Wilson.
Devin Smith – CB – Smith has virtually no chance at making the final roster so the best he can hope for is a spot on the practice squad and even that might be a stretch.
Ross Ventrone – S – There is no way Ventrone makes the roster, but I think he might have a year of practice squad eligibility left. If he does, he very well could wind up there if the Steelers only keep four safeties on the 53 man roster.