Kozora: Steelers 2014 53 Man Roster Prediction – Post Second Preseason Game Edition

By Alex Kozora

My fourth attempt at predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 53 man roster before we kick off tonight’s third preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Feel free to add in with your input below.

Offense (23)

Quarterbacks (2) – Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski

Analysis: Nothing changed here. Two extra practice squad spots only does more to invite placing Landry Jones there.

Running Backs (3) – Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount, Dri Archer

Analysis: Removing Tauren Poole from the list. He’s a better practice squad candidate. If LeGarrette Blount starts tonight’s game as the upback on kick returns, you can certainly cross Poole off this list. It’s rare for the team to carry just three running backs but no one else here can justify a spot. Don’t be surprised if the Steelers’ scour the waiver wire for a fourth back. Pro player personnel scouts exist for a reason. Perhaps after Warren gets back and they can offer a non-guaranteed contract to a vested veteran.

Fullbacks (1) – Will Johnson

Analysis: Same as last time. We’ll call him a fullback to please the old-school purists, but Johnson will be a Swiss Army knife in 2014.

Wide Receivers (5)– Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore, Justin Brown, Martavis Bryant

Analysis: I do have a small bit of temptation to place Darrius Heyward-Bey on here to serve on special teams but I’m not convinced he’d be active without an injury. Being a #4 gunner isn’t enough to earn him a hat. I still expect Bryant to be inactive more often than not.

Tight Ends (3) – Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, David Paulson

Analysis: Still no changes here. Comes down to Paulson versus Michael Palmer. Paulson has been healthy, received more snaps, and Mike Tomlin has a thing for 81.

Offensive Line (9) – Kelvin Beachum, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Marcus Gilbert, Guy Whimper, Mike Adams, Cody Wallace, Wesley Johnson

Analysis:  Any idea of Bryant Browning making a push disappeared following his injury. The Steelers need to be looking for a swing tackle at cut down date. Mike Adams shouldn’t play a snap for Pittsburgh.

Defense (26)

Defensive Lineman (6) – Cameron Heyward, Cam Thomas, Stephon Tuitt, Steve McLendon, Brett Keisel, Daniel McCullers

Analysis: Add Keisel, remove Josh Mauro. There is a chance the rookie from Stanford finds his way onto the roster but the Steelers haven’t kept five defensive ends on their opening roster since 2010. With McLendon and McCullers being able to work as nickel ends, Mauro doesn’t have much of a role anymore.

Inside Linebackers (5) – Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Sean Spence, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin

Analysis: Jordan Zumwalt continues to pose zero threat to any of these five.

Outside Linebackers (5) – Jason Worilds, Jarvis Jones, Arthur Moats, Chris Carter, Howard Jones

Analysis: Last spot comes down to Jones vs Vic So’oto. You could make a case for either but I’ll take Jones. Better upside and I saw more in practice out of the rookie than So’oto. Until there was less than a minute left in the game Saturday, no one had So’oto on their roster. One nice play won’t change an overall quiet preseason. So’oto does still have practice squad eligibility, too.

Cornerbacks (5) – Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen, William Gay, Antwon Blake, Brice McCain

Analysis: List hasn’t changed from my pre-camp attempt. Barring anything catastrophic, McCain looks to have a great chance to make this team,

Safety (5) – Troy Polamalu, Mike Mitchell, Shamarko Thomas, Will Allen, Robert Golden

Analysis: Ditto with this position. The Jordan Dangerfield bandwagon has come to a screeching halt.

Specialists (4)

Kicker (1) – Shaun Suisham

Analysis: No explanation needed.

Punter (1) – Brad Wing

Analysis: Not like I have any other options. But an outsider could still take this spot. Want to see more consistency out of Wing.

Long Snapper (2) – Luke Ingram, Greg Warren

Analysis: Warren’s injury makes this situation tough and no team wants to carry two long snappers. But they don’t have much of a choice. Warren’s injury isn’t severe enough to IR him, fully or with a designated to return tag, releasing an injured player who underwent surgery outright could anger the NFLPA, and an injury settlement doesn’t make sense here either because of the six week period the Steelers would have to wait to re-sign him.

Obviously, as soon as Warren returns, Ingram will be released and a roster spot will open back up. Makes this 53 fluid.

Practice Squad (10) – Rob Blanchflower, Hebron Fangupo, Chris Hubbard, Landry Jones, Josh Mauro, Derek Moye, Tauren Poole, Shaquille Richardson, Devin Smith, Eric Waters, Jordan Zumwalt

Analysis: The biggest shakeup on my roster comes with the practice squad. Still have three draft picks failing to make the roster with two UDFAs latching on. The expansion to ten spots allows teams to double up at positions. That’s how Eric Waters earned his spot due to the intrigue that still exists. Facing him as a “move” in practice will serve the team well when they play teams like Cleveland and Cincinnati.

Poole and Mauro get shuffled down to the practice squad. Hebron Fangupo becomes a nose tackle for the scout team. With the Steelers only carrying five wide receivers, Moye does land on here. Smith is a hunch but his versatility makes him an asset for a scout team defense.

Taking Chris Elkins off the practice squad as a healthy lineman who didn’t play a single snap on offense last week.  Dangerfield and So’oto go the way of Marshall McFadden or Brian Rolle; mildly surprise outright cuts that you’ll get every year.

Remember one spot could become available if one of these ten are promoted to the 53 following Warren’s return.

Game Day Inactives (7): Martavis Bryant, Wesley Johnson, Mike Adams, Cody Wallace, Daniel McCullers, Chris Carter, Howard Jones

Last section we’ll add is an attempt to project some of the special teams’ units. That plays a major role in shaping the 53 and who is inactive.

I had planned on making Brice McCain inactive but without him, there isn’t a strong candidate to be a game day backup gunner in the event of injury. Perhaps William Gay but he hasn’t received work there in the preseason.

Due to that, coupled with the fact McCain has been with the first team kick coverage unit the last two weeks, I chose him over Carter. And as you’ll see below, I can create a first team kick coverage, based off what has transpired the last two weeks, with Carter off of it.


Will Allen can serve as a backup for the defensive backs with Arthur Moats and Ryan Shazier as backups for the linebackers.

My punt coverage is similar.


You could cycle out one of the linebackers for Arthur Moats if you wish, too. Again, able to keep Chris Carter off this unit, justifying him to be inactive. McCain serves as the backup gunner.

And to round it out, my kick return unit.


Only concern here is the inclusion of Matt Spaeth on this unit. But the only other plays to see time at that spot in the preseason are: Howard Jones, Ethan Hemer, and Michael Palmer. None of those guys on my active 53. So Spaeth it is. Perhaps you replace him with Will Johnson and have Stephon Tuitt be part of the wedge with Wallace.

2014 Steelers 53 Man Roster Prediction Post Second Preseason Game Edition

Roethlisberger, BenQB
Gradkowski, BruceQB
Brown, AntonioWR
Wheaton, MarkusWR
Moore, LanceWR
Brown, JustinWR
Bryant, MartavisWR
Miller, HeathTE
Spaeth, MattTE
Paulson, DavidTE
Bell, Le’VeonRB
Blount, LeGarretteRB
Archer, DriRB
Johnson, WillFB
Pouncey, MaurkiceC
DeCastro, DavidG
Foster, RamonG
Beachum, KelvinT/G
Gilbert, MarcusT
Adams, MikeT
Wallace, CodyC/G
Whimper, GuyT/G
Johnson, WesleyC/G/T
Taylor, IkeCB
Allen, CortezCB
Gay, WilliamCB
Blake, AntwonCB
McCain, BriceCB
Polamalu, TroyS
Mitchell, MikeS
Thomas, ShamarkoS
Golden, RobertS
Allen, WillS
Heyward, CameronDE
McLendon, SteveNT/DE
Tuitt, StephonDE
Thomas, CamDE/NT
Keisel, BrettDE
McCullers, DanielNT
Timmons, LawrenceILB
Shazier, RyanILB
Williams, VinceILB
Spence, SeanILB
Garvin, TerenceILB/OLB
Worilds, JasonOLB
Jones, JarvisOLB
Carter, ChrisOLB
Moats, ArthurOLB
Jones, HowardOLB
Warren, GregLS
Ingram, LukeLS
Suisham, ShaunK
Wing, BradP
Jones, LandryQB
Poole, TaurenRB
Richardson, ShaquilleCB
Zumwalt, JordanLB
Mauro, JoshDE
Smith, DevinCB
Blanchflower, RobTE
Moye, DerekWR
Hubbard, ChrisG
Water, EricTE

  • Hampwood

    Only 6 active lineman on game day with our luck?

  • Biggie

    Would be nice to see all those guys make the practice squad but could see losing a couple of them once cut to other teams rosters, So’oto and Mauro specifically. I’d like to see Elkins make the PS, he is very technically sound, add a little weight and strength in a year and he has some serious upside. The Jones experiment should be done, cut him and be done with it, bring in another QB for this year and next year start thinking about a serious guy to develop in next couple of drafts under Ben.

  • Steelers12328882

    Was this done pre pot bust?

  • Alex Kozora

    Sorry, that’s a typo. Supposed to be Greg Warren for Week One, assuming he’s not healthy. Wallace active.

  • Alex Kozora


  • Steelers12328882

    So it would obviously be speculation, but you gotta think at least one extra back would be kept for the time being. Similar to the long snapper issue. My question would be, lets say both RBs are sitting week 1, in your opinion would you keep 2 extra backs? Maybe Poole and a waiver wire back?

  • Mark_K

    Alex I know you’ve watched a lot of tape of the second team line……..just clarifying you feel better with Whimper coming in as a backup tackle over Adams; or he would be active because of more flexibility of positions?

  • steeltown

    Pending League action for yesterdays events, I agree (mostly) with this roster.

    Changes: Palmer over Paulson, So’oto over Carter or at the very least put So’oto on the practice quad, remove Devon Smith

    When Warren returns and we’re back to 1LS, promote Mauro to the 53man and sign Dangerfield to the PS

  • Alex Kozora

    Whimper’s ability to play four spots and watching how terrible Adams was yesterday makes me not want to see him take a snap in a game that counts. So both.

  • Alex Kozora

    Yeah, you’re going to need at least three.

    But we’ll cross that bridge if/when we come to it. NFL has to wait for the legal system to play out. It could take some time.

  • steeltown

    You have 11 PS bodies initially and then 10 on the bottom list, I think Fangupo is the odd man out, correct?

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I would cut Adams and Paulson assuming the Bryant fills Paulsons role. Allen and Carter would also go.

    I’d keep Mauro, Zum & Shaq.

    I would sign Harrison.

    I would also trade Cam Thomas, Lance Moore and a draft choice next year for a LT

    The final roster spot would go the Waters, Moye or Bey

  • I agree with a commenter below that Mauro could get the last spot when Warren is back. I just think we need that guaranteed depth on the d-line.

    With the RB situation, though, I do wonder if that last spot will be taken instead by a late waiver wire pickup, given that none of the guys currently on the roster have shown enough to warrant being kept. It seems to me there may now be an interest in having some insurance behind Bell and Blount (and other than Dri).

  • Oh, and I do think the team is sticking with Carter for now, regardless of how many in Steeler Nation may find that objectionable. Like “steeltown” below, though, I’d like to see So’oto on the PS. He may not have had the greatest pre-season, but there’s something intriguing about him.

  • And one more thing: I’d take DHB over Brown at WR. I realize the latter may have the edge right now, but in the right situation, which I think the Steelers can provide, DHB could shine — his experience, speed, and athleticism would be major assets to the team, and I’d be comfortable with him stepping into a larger, even starting role in the even of injury.

  • JohnB

    Dang, Dangerfield didn’t even make your practice squad?

  • Alex Kozora

    Fangupo was supposed to be removed. Sorry.

  • bustedknuckles

    I was thinking the same thing. Not sure why not. Maybe because of the talent in front of him, I suppose.

  • steeltown

    No worries, just curious

  • bustedknuckles

    Perfect. Well done sir.

  • Alex Kozora

    Always the one or two guys you think will make it but don’t. With 5 safeties on the 53 and two CBs on the PS, I wasn’t carrying another DB.

  • ApexSteel

    He has experience, speed, and athleticism, but you’re forgetting one huge factor. He can’t catch. The team won’t go into the season with only three receivers that can catch consistently. And if DHB ever started for this team it would be a travesty.

  • ApexSteel

    No they won’t.

  • Big White

    If Mauro doesn’t make the 53 he won’t be on the practice squad, because he will be signed by another team as soon as he hits the open market.

  • ApexSteel

    No one would trade any valuable tackle for Cam Thomas and Lance Moore.

  • AzheDraven

    Maybe they will look at DHB as a WR/HB and that could help him make the team. He’s fast, and if he cant catch, maybe you can just give him the ball and wait if he does something. Id be less worried seeing DHB running the ball (No pitching for him) than Markus Wheaton. Just because he could get injuried.

  • Big White

    Wing will be cut, plenty of FA’s out there or cuts from other teams that are more consistent.

  • James Kling

    Convert DHB to CB. The new Ike!

  • He drops more than his fair share, sure, but I think it’s unfair to say he can’t catch. He had 64 receptions a few years ago for not exactly a great Raiders team. Again, I’m not saying he’s a #1 or even a regular starter, but he can fill in as necessary and would be a solid fourth or fifth WR with an upside of 35-40 receptions. Plus, he has good size to go along with his speed. The problem all along is that the Raiders drafted him way too high and so expectations were way too high.

  • And it’s not like Brown has all that much upside, so what, honestly, is the point of keeping him? And even if DHB falters, there are other options beyond the WR position in Heath, Archer, and Johnson.

  • ApexSteel

    The fact that he can catch!

  • ApexSteel

    He caught 64 balls on 115 targets a few years ago with Carson Palmer throwing to him. Ok. Then the year after that he caught 41 balls with 80 targets. A little over 50 percent not good. Then last year, with Andrew Luck throwing to him, he caught 29 balls with 62 targets before he was benched. Not even 50 percent. Awful.

    So if he only had two seasons where he could get over 40 catches as a starter what makes you think he can get 35 as a 4th stringer? If we’re going to keep someone big with speed and inconsistent catching ability it’ll be Martavis Bryant. Not DHB. He’s garbage.

  • BFB

    Receiver who can’t catch makes him a candidate for cornerback, right? Hmmm…
    Just kidding. Cut him along with Landry Jones.
    Still like Adams over Whimper. True Whimper can play more spots but he looks equally bad in any of them.

  • BFB

    You beat me to it! Doh!

  • BFB

    Because he get’s no respect!

  • Battlegrounds

    Hey Alex. What about cutting Landry Jones and Chris Carter and adding Josh Mauro and Vic So’oto? Carter’s time is done. The Steelers have no problem cutting relatively high draft picks, IE Kraig Urbik, 3rd. I just don’t see Mauro making it to the PS. He has shown enough for teams to want to pick him up. Also, can PS players refuse going to another PS team?

  • Alex Kozora

    Well Jones is already cut on my 53. Still keeping Carter, even if he is an inactive, as some veteran depth, especially for special teams. Before So’oto’s FF last week, no one was talking about him. So I think that bandwagon is a little too much right now.

    History says the team is likely to keep just 4 DEs. Mauro would have been on there had Keisel not been signed. Mauro should get to the PS no problem. Who was the last UDFA to get plucked up like that?

    Teams can only take other opposing practice squad players and offer them a spot on their 53. Not to their own practice squad.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I would be floored if all we have on gameday is 2 HB’s and a scat back on the roster. Poole has played well enough on ST’s to give him a spot although there is a chance like u mentioned we hit the waiver wire. I look at the TE position as this. Paulson is a better receiver but Palmer is better at ST’s and a better blocker. I would rather we go with the younger guys in Blanchflower or Waters but they need to put it on the next few weeks.

  • Tammie Sherrell Hill

    I agree but also disagreee wing haven’t been consistant but he does have a powerful leg with potential if he can get it going as for the others that may be cut I feel like we may be back to square one if that happens I say give wing some time to pan out we still have two more preseason games left for him to work out the kinks

  • Tammie Sherrell Hill

    I’d rather have more safeties than cbs because they seem more promissing

  • Tammie Sherrell Hill

    That’s the part that puzzles me if he can’t catch (which seems to be the case) HOW was he even considered a first rd talent was that draft class THAT bad

  • Tammie Sherrell Hill

    I agree to anything that has carter leaving also adams and LJones

  • Tammie Sherrell Hill

    I hope they bring in another qb/cb/rb from other teams

  • Per

    One question about the inactives. They way you have it planed you only have six O-linemen on gameday.
    Thinking of Tomlins history of having seven active on gameday, and Steelers injury history on the line, why do you think they will go with six?

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I haven’t followed other teams but I find it hard to believe that neither one of them has any value at all. I know you didn’t say that.

    I don’t expect we would get anyone special unless we include a good pick but there have to be a few teams out there with interesting tackles they don’t need.

    I have to think that some combination of the value of those two players and a pick gets us something better than what we have now. I don’t believe that good offensive lineman are as rare as we might believe following this team.