The Pittsburgh Steelers have now announced their initial 2014 practice squad players and here is quick break down of every one of them
DE Nick Williams - Williams, the Steelers seventh round draft pick from 2013, remains a project of defensive line coach John Mitchell. Williams lost his rookie season to a knee injury and really didn’t get much playing time during the preseason. The jury remains out on him for now and he will really be expected to make progress this season.
WR Derek Moye – After spending all of 2013 on the Steelers 53 man roster, Moye returns to the practice squad once again. Being as he is one of two wide receivers currently on the practice squad there’s a good chance he hangs around a while as long as he’s not poached by another team.
S Ross Ventrone – Ventrone has a lot of experience as far as being a practice squad player goes. He also plays every play like it’s his last and thankfully the rules of the practice squad changed a few weeks ago so that he could remain eligible for it. Depending on the numbers need, Ventrone might be bounced on and off all season. Regardless, it’s nice see his solid effort rewarded
CB Shaquille Richardson – The Steelers first of two fifth-round draft picks was slowed by a knee injury late in the preseason. He has a lot of developing to do moving forward with an eye on making the final 53 man roster next season. Richardson figures to be around a while and could wind up being promoted later on in the season.
TE Rob Blanchflower – The Steelers seventh-round draft pick finally showed his upside during the final two preseason games after finally getting over the sprained ankle he suffered early on in training camp. As long as he stays healthy, he should be around all season.
DE Josh Mauro – Mauro, one of the Steelers high priority undrafted free agents, needs to get stronger and work on his technique as the season progresses. After a nice training camp and preseason, he is now the 2014 version of Brian Arnfelt, who was waived last week.
LB Howard Jones – Jones, a converted small school defensive end, has a long road ahead of him. Outside of being around the football during the preseason and recovering fumbles, the Shepherd product really didn’t show much else. For now, Jones is the 2014 version of Alan Baxter, who was supposed to be the 2013 version of Adrian Robinson.
RB Josh Harris – Harris, who felt his former college coaches prevented him fro m getting drafted by smearing his character, joined the Steelers just after the start of training camp. He quickly scaled the depth chart and should get plenty of work as a scout team player early on in the season. With the Steelers only keeping three running backs on their 53 man roster, there’s a good chance Harris hangs around quite a while.
WR C.J. Goodwin - Goodwin, who was signed after a tryout after being recommended by Hall of Famer Mel Blount, didn’t play a single play on offense during the preseason. Hampered by a minor shoulder during training camp, Goodwin’s addition to the practice squad is confusing and looks like charity case. He figures to be the first player released should the team need the extra spot.
T Alejandro Villanueva – Villanueva, who was waived recently by the Philadelphia Eagles, looks like he will be converted to tackle after playing on the definitive side of the football during the preseason. Villanueva has a great back story as he was an Army Ranger captain who received the Bronze Star after serving three tours in Afghanistan. Villanueva moves well for a 6-foot-9, 290-pound player. The Steelers worked him out immediately after the Eagles waived him.