Key Roster Battles Heading Into Steelers Preseason Finale

The Pittsburgh Steelers now have one preseason game let on their 2014 schedule and that means the final roster cuts are just over a week away. While most of the spots on the final 53 man roster are already spoken for, a few battles for the remaining spots are still likely ongoing. Here is a look at several of the remaining battles that I have identified following the Steelers 31-21 loss Thursday night to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Justin Brown vs. Darrius Heyward-Bey – After getting a lot of run during the OTA sessions and early training camp practices, Brown has cooled off considerably. In the first three preseason games he has all of three catches for 15 yards and that includes him not catching any passes Thursday night against the Eagles. Part of the blame could go on the poor quarterback play in the first two games, but invisible is still invisible and that includes his work on special teams. On the flip side, Heyward-Bey finally came alive Thursday night with his three catch showing that included a long touchdown. Is there a chance both make the roster, or is this an either/or situation with one week of preseason action left?

David Paulson vs. Rob Blanchflower – Did any of you see Paulson play on offense Thursday night? I didn’t. He was relegated to special teams duty while Blanchflower saw 19 snaps with the second-team offense. I ruled out Blanchflower making the roster a few weeks ago, but perhaps that was premature. This battle could come down to the preseason finale and that’s assuming the team even has plans to keep a true third tight end.

Wesley Johnson vs. Guy Whimper vs. Mike Adams – As bad as Adams has looked during the preseason, the team still might already consider him a lock. Johnson has been stuck at center all throughout the preseason and that’s something I didn’t expect to happen. Whimper is still Whimper and he and Adams have been rotating tackle spots. Whimper has also yet to play any at the two guard spots and that’s concerning as well. There’s a good chance that all three make the final 53 if offensive line coach Mike Munchak gets to keep nine offensive linemen.

Chris Carter vs. Vic So’oto vs. Howard Jones – Thanks to the first-team defense having to play deep into the second half Thursday night So’oto and Jones were limited mostly to playing on special teams. They logged four snaps each on defense while Carter played 17 snaps with the second-team. The Steelers aren’t going to keep all three of these players and they might not even keep two of them.

Will Allen vs. Mike Tomlin – Allen sat out a second-straight game Thursday night with a hamstring injury. In my opinion, his spot comes down to whether or not Tomlin trust the play of Shamarko Thomas and Robert Golden. Allen is a favorite of Tomlin’s, but the veteran really needs to get some playing time in the preseason finale.

Brad Wing vs. Adam Podlesh – Here we go again. Podlesh is winning this battle without even showing up. Wing has a 40.3 average and a 35.8 net average on 17 punts. Is the Steelers 2014 punter currently on another team’s roster? Yuck.

Bryce Davis vs. Luke Ingram – Who would’ve thought we would have this small battle going on a few weeks ago? If veteran Greg Warren isn’t ready to go in a few more weeks, it’s likely that either Davis or Ingram will need to be kept initially on the 53 man roster. Both players played five snaps Thursday night and we’ll know in a few days whether or not both will be around for the preseason finale.

Landry Jones vs. History vs. Numbers – Jones did not play Thursday, but figures to get a lot of playing time in the preseason finale. History says Jones will be kept as a No. 3 quarterback, but you have to wonder if the can get by with him being on the practice squad to start the season.

  • srdan

    Mike Adams had one of his best games ever on Thursday. He is in

    Dhb hustles, is big and fast, plays special teams and hasn’t been dropping balls. He has far exceeded expectations. He is in.

  • SteveM2

    Don’t be too surprised when the Steelers pluck another punter off the waiver wire.

  • dgh57

    It’s going to be interesting to see what the pecking order will be at some positions as backups play most of the last preseason games.

  • G & M

    The four players I want rid of most on that list are:
    Chris Carter: time to move on, we don’t have all day to wait on this kid to get it!
    Will Allen: Infuse more youth in the secondary! It is time for Shamarko to really hone his skills.
    Brad Wing: Had high hopes for him, but he is just not getting it done. Not sure Podlesh is the answer either? Need someone with skill back there.
    Landry Jones: Enough already!!

  • Eric MacLaurin

    Bey, JB. Adams & maybe Jones stay. cut the rest.

  • Melly

    The only positive from Thurs night game was that I didn’t have to watch L.Jones play! Wasting a spot on him makes no sense to me. If he passes thru waivers…put him on the PS!
    I cringe to say it, but I think C.Carter makes the 53. Jarvis is still too raw. I like the play of HoJo and So’oto, but I feel it wont be enough!?
    I would of liked to have seen Waters be the 3rd TE vs Blanch or Paulson.
    A week ago I was very optimistic about this team. After the 2 DOPES and the Philly game…I have my doubts!

  • dgh57

    I hope you’re only joking here, but Adams had one of his best games ever last Thursday?!! Did you read the Alex Kozora article posted the other day about how ugly his play was?! Yes, Adams is in as he has lack of depth to thank for that.

  • Jason White

    I say stash Landry on the practice squad. It’s not like the number 3 QB can act as an emergency QB anymore. Having a number 3 QB is a decision that can be made from week to week as necessary.

  • joed32

    No, but I watched the game.

  • Still_JPDQ

    Maybe, but I wouldn’t give up on Wing just yet. I watched this guy play at LSU and remember him being a great weapon in terms of flipping the field. He’s been inconsistent so far with the Steelers, but the guy’s basically a rookie. We should have the same expectations for him as the rest of the rookie class. There’s no denying he has a huge leg and great hangtimes, which can be just as important as distance if your opponent never gets to return a punt.

    Either way, he didn’t just forget how to punt over the past year. I think he’s just acclimating to playing in the NFL and may be battling some nerves. We’ll see.

  • Bill

    This article speaks to predicament the coaches face this season. Look at this list of roster spot battles. To me, it’s scrub versus scrub. Most of these men have shown nothing. It’s a mystery to me what criteria they will use to make the determinations. Maybe the last preseason game will shed some light. One can only hope

  • srdan

    Don’t be a sheep, watch the game

  • steeltown

    Actually you make a pretty valid assumption regarding Paulson, maybe the reason they didn’t play him much is because they don’t plan on keeping 3 true TEs on the 53man being that Will Johnson is the #3 they then played Blanchflower quite a bit because they are leaning toward keeping him on the practice squad

  • BFB

    Adams looked worse at RT on Thu than previous week at LT. In fact, I thought he played better against the Bills at LT than Beachum vs the Iggles. IMO, Munchak has improved his blind side capabilities and the RT skills were a bit rusty. He did not look awful except on one play where he was walked back into Ben. Kozora seems to have focused on that…..

  • Steelers@2010

    I would keep the 3 of the 4; get rid of Jones, that kid looked horrible against Buffalo. I’m sure they can find a 3rd string QB after the final curs that can play better and contribute more than Jones. Adams – same for him, keep him around until the final cuts are made. I’m sure they can find a better LT than Adams. The depth problems on that team is a direct reflection on Colbert and Tomlin not having a clue how to evaluate talent. When it comes to Offensive Lineman, CB’s and back-up QB’s, that organization has done a horrible job the past 7yrs. The season is 16wks, I’m going to try and remain optimistic.

  • joed32

    He seems to do that a lot but he has so many things he’s trying to keep track of.

  • Steelers12328882

    Blanchflower looked pretty good out there blocking.

  • Steelers12328882

    I thought Adams looked ok too. The left side backups(Adams and Hubbard) had their troubles just as the starters did, but overall I think it was his best showing of the preseason.

  • Steelers12328882

    Not sure if you misspoke, but Adams only logged snaps at LT in Thursday nights game.

  • AzheDraven

    Im still rooting for Wing. I want him to be our punter, but yeah, i think he is battling the nerves of a live nfl game. Let him gain his confidence. Hopefully he has a good showing vs the panthers, and we actually never get to punt on the regular season, haha.

  • Weiss Chad

    I was more concerned about beachum Thursday .If I’m not mistaken he gave up two sacks didn’t he?The rest of the lines pass blocking looked fine to me

  • Weiss Chad

    I would get rid of whimper a hundred times over before I’d get rid of adams

  • Steelers12328882

    Not sure exactly, but I thought he looked horrible on our 1st drive, but was much better throughout the game.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Not sure what the love affair people have with Waters. Let me know why you think that please? He has shown us absolutely nothing IMO. I would be shocked if he wasn’t let go Tuesday.

  • patrick Mayfield

    Will Allen’s stock can only rise from missing that game. With Mitchell looking a little uncertain, I would think that Allen may be cloer than ever to locking up a spot.

  • steeltown

    Yea good point. Add the fact that we really don’t have much CB depth, none worth keeping on the 53man roster anyway, so we can easily keep 5 Safeties.

  • dgh57

    Had to work that night. I’m sure he had his moments but the Kozora article and his reputation for inconsistency is enough for me.

  • Matt Manzo

    Player picks and development are starting to worry me, too. We got great starters this year, but haven’t restocked the back ups yet.

  • HecklerSpray

    You can stash Landry Jones at a Footlocker – – nobody is going to take him.

  • Melly

    I would of liked for him to show something based on his measurables. I believe it would/could of brought a different element to our TE position. You do recall all of the excitement/interest that people had in regards to Ebron!? I’m not saying that down the road that cant happen. Maybe he makes the PS? Maybe he doesn’t?? Heath is getting old, Spaeth does very well at blocking, Paulson is boring, and Im not sure what Branch does well.

  • Melly

    But Golden and Thomas have played well when given the chance. Why waste a spot on a 5th Safety? I’d rather have a 10th LB on the team or 7 DL vs 5 Ss!

  • Matthew Suloman

    Adams is a bust – across the board…

  • pat

    I think the problems I our cb depth shark may be asked to play some nickel so we might need Allen

  • charles

    They played Blanchflower as if the #3 TE was his to take.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    WR: They say J Brown was looking great, but the only glimpse of evidence I have seen so far is DHB. Indecisive here. Maybe the next game will tell.

    Blanchflower, or get rid of both and keep Palmer, as he can block and play some ST.

    Cut Whimper. If Munchack loves someone from the final cuts, then perhaps grab him and stash Johnson on the PS>

    Vic So’oto wins my vote. HoJo to the PS. Bye to Carter.

    No to Will Allen, keep Brad Wing, PS for QB Jones. And I don’t know about the LS. Can they cut the injured guy and still get him back when he’s ready? It would save 1 spot.

    By the way, why don’t they just let you dress the full 53? It would be easier with injuries and ST. All those inactives just piss me off. Although I can see games where you may wish to use a McCullers more and sit him against other opponents.

  • Tammie Sherrell Hill

    I agree adams/jones/and carter can go and imo I wish we can get rid of all the cbs exept Allen (hoping he shows something) and just start over

  • Tammie Sherrell Hill

    I agree 100

  • Tammie Sherrell Hill

    Same as carter and jones

  • Teddy

    I know he hasn’t played at all and a lot of people don’t know him but our fourth string quarterback UDFA out of Cincinnati Brendan Kay. I would like to see play and even possibly take Landry Jones Spot on the roster.

  • Weiss Chad

    If I’m not mistaking he gave up two sacks and foster didn’t play so hot either.The line overall looks like they have improved.

  • steeltown


  • Sloop John V

    Mike Adams is a waste of a roster spot. Landry Jones goes to the practice squad. Heyward-Bey has hands of stone and his history in the league bears that out. That roster spot should be a battle between Moye and Justin Brown. Will Allen’s best years are behind him, but he’s still better than Golden and Thomas, in my opinion. Cornerback is a real issue for this team. Taylor and Gay make me cringe. Neither can cover worth a damn and their tackling in run support leaves a lot to be desired.

  • MC

    Two players ill be rooting for to make the roster – Golden and So’oto

  • srdan

    Sorry about that curt response. Not my style. I was a bit tipsy and angry beyond belief about our performance. I went to the game. Then I rewatched it and thougth I found one bright spot. You came along at a time when I was looking for any bright spot, no matter how bleek hahaha

  • srdan

    And looked very comfortable there.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I understand the potential that Waters may have presented but there comes a time when the potential has to begin being realized which never really happened for Waters. Doesn’t mean it still cannot happen just we have a limited time to evaluate every player and Waters was unable in his short stay to give us anything really tangible to hold onto.