By Alex Kozora
My sixth and final attempt at predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers 53 man roster following the preseason finale. As of this writing, the final cuts have yet to be announced.
Feel free to add in with your input below.
Quarterbacks (2) – Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski
Analysis: Statistically, Landry Jones may have had an ok night Thursday but the tape shows a different story. He should have been intercepted at least once, rarely tried to throw vertical, and couldn’t generate any points. He finishes the preseason by leading the offense to just six points. Greg Warren’s likely clean bill of health does slightly crack the door but I still refuse to spend it on a #3 QB who has instilled zero confidence in anybody.
Running Backs (3) – Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount, Dri Archer
Analysis: Unless the team grabs someone off the waiver wire, which is entirely possible, these will be the only three runners. Josh Harris and Stephon Houston have no shot to make it. They’ll fight for the practice squad.
Fullbacks (1) – Will Johnson
Analysis: Nice to see Johnson back and involved heavily against the Carolina Panthers. Even picked up a carry. That was the Will Johnson that had me excited at the start of camp.
Wide Receivers (6) – Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore, Martavis Bryant, Justin Brown, Darrius Heyward-Bey
Analysis: I came full circle. Started the year off with these six and after thinking Heyward-Bey didn’t stand a chance to make it, he’s back on for the second week in a row. Martavis Bryant’s injury is the player fans are focusing on the most when trying to determine DHB’s status but the focal point should be Brice McCain’s injury. If McCain misses multiple weeks, keeping Heyward-Bey – and making him active on Sunday – seems a lot more likely. Heyward-Bey is the #4 gunner with a healthy McCain but moves as the top backup should McCain miss time. If the Steelers keep four receivers active on gameday, Justin Brown could become inactive for the first few weeks. Lot to watch here.
Tight Ends (3) – Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Michael Palmer
Analysis: Still really not sure who the #3 TE. Likely will come down to Palmer vs David Paulson. Rob Blanchflower will probably be stashed on the practice squad. Palmer ran ahead of Paulson Thursday and is the more competent blocker. I’ll stick with him.
Offensive Line (9) – Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams, Kelvin Beachum, Cody Wallace, Wesley Johnson, Guy Whimper
Analysis: I want to make a change here but can’t bring myself to do so. We need to at least entertain the idea of Johnson going to the practice squad. Maybe the team has had him play just center in an attempt to stash him, not letting other teams see how versatile he is on game day. With three draft picks likely off the 53, it is hard to imagine a fourth being kicked off the island. Still keep an eye on the team adding a swing tackle. That and running back are the two positions I’d comb the waiver wire for.
Defensive Linemen (7) – Steve McLendon, Cameron Heyward, Cam Thomas, Stephon Tuitt, Brett Keisel, Daniel McCullers, Josh Mauro
Analysis: With the assumption Greg Warren is healthy, my final spot on the 53 goes to Mauro. Really don’t see anyone else I would be comfortable with adding here. Mauro and McCullers will likely be inactive on Sunday.
Inside Linebackers (5) – Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, Sean Spence, Terence Garvin
Analysis: After Spence looked back to normal early in camp, my grouping here hasn’t changed.
Outside Linebackers (4) – Jarvis Jones, Jason Worilds, Chris Carter, Arthur Moats
Analysis: Nothing different here either. Only other OLB is Howard Jones, who is best suited for the practice squad. Just way too raw at this point in his career. Welcome back, Carter. The cough medicine of this roster. We don’t really like you but have become trained to tolerate your existence as a necessary evil.
Cornerbacks (5) – Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen, William Gay, Antwon Blake, Brice McCain
Analysis: I really hope McCain isn’t out for a long time. The only other slot cornerback on this roster is Gay. An injury to him or the starters will put the team in a bind. Shamarko Thomas would logically be forced to play some slot work.
Safeties (5) – Troy Polamalu, Mike Mitchell, Shamarko Thomas, Robert Golden, Will Allen
Analysis: Status quo again. Allen starting for Polamalu should halt any questions about the safety of his roster spot.
Kicker (1) – Shaun Suisham
Analysis: No explanation needed. Though Suisham’s misses have started to become concerning.
Punter (1) – Brad Wing
Analysis: Have yet to get to delve much into Thursday’s game so far but Wing looked strong. Could go either way on this one but perhaps the team doesn’t want to try and start anew like they did last year. They like players they’re familiar with. Even punters.
Long Snapper (1) – Greg Warren
Analysis: Warren sounds healthy for Week One. No longer need to endure the agony of carrying two long snappers.
Practice Squad (10) – Rob Blanchflower, Ethan Hemer, Stephen Houston, Chris Hubbard, Isaiah Green, Howard Jones, Landry Jones, Dan Molls, Shaquille Richardson, Ross Ventrone
Analysis: I’ll follow Dave’s lead and placed Jordan Zumwalt on injured reserve. The same could happen to Richardson but injuries are obviously impossible to predict from an outsider’s view. Both injuries seem long-term enough though to justify it. Green should have been on here a try or two ago. All Molls does is find the ball. Having guys like him and Ventrone immediately elevate the intensity and work ethic of everyone around them. Nice to have for the practice squad. Hard to say with any confidence but Houston seems a tick more talented than Harris. Like his build.
Game Day Inactives (7) – Mike Adams, Martavis Bryant, Justin Brown, Chris Carter, Wesley Johnson, Daniel McCullers, Josh Mauro
2014 Steelers 53 Man Roster Prediction Final Edition
|PRACTICE SQUAD (10)|
|INJURED RESERVE (1)|