When Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Brian Rolle was released by the Philadelphia Eagles last October, there were reports that suggested his play on special teams was the main reason why he was jettisoned. Now, as the Steelers head into their final preseason game Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers, Rolle is on the outside of the bubble looking in because of his failure to produce on special teams.
Saturday night against the Kansas City Chiefs, Rolle was one of the players on the Steelers kickoff coverage unit that allowed running back Kniles Davis to go 109 yards for a touchdown, and that could wind up being the final nail in his coffin despite the fact he's played alright on defense.
Rolle is likely battling fellow inside linebackers Kion Wilson and rookie Vince Williams for two roster spots and being that Williams has played well and has shown upside on the defensive side of the ball; it very well could come down to Wilson and Rolle for the final spot.
Wilson, who has also played well at linebacker during the preseason, is a far better special teams player than Rolle is, and he played on all the first-team units Saturday night against the Chiefs. That doesn't bold well for Rolle.
The Steelers will have to make their final cuts by Friday evening, and special teams coordinator Danny Smith will likely have the final say when it comes down to Rolle and Wilson. At this point, it's not hard to figure out which way he is currently leaning.
Rolle is not eligible for the practice squad, so he very well could be wearing the black and gold for the last time Thursday in Carolina unless a player ahead of him on the depth chart is seriously injured.