By Alex Kozora
The fifth and next to last attempt at predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers 53 man roster as we roll into the final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. This article has been written before the announcement of their first 15 cuts.
Feel free to add in with your input below.
Quarterbacks (2) – Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski
Analysis: I’ve said all I can say about the position. Landry Jones does figure to get extensive work on Thursday. At least a half, perhaps more. Even so, I’m far from convinced that an adequate showing is enough to keep him on the roster. In my eyes at least, it shouldn’t.
Running Backs (3) – Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount, Dri Archer
Analysis: Tauren Poole missing last week’s game just about nixes his chances. And with Bell and Blount’s punishment being extra playing time, Josh Harris didn’t see a snap on offense. Although I’m not including it on my roster, adding a fourth back would come as little surprise. The short list of names to keep in mind include: Brandon Bolden, Alex Green, and Joe Banyard.
Fullbacks (1) – Will Johnson
Analysis: Status quo.
Wide Receivers (6)– Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore, Justin Brown, Martavis Bryant, Darrius Heyward-Bey
Analysis: Wide receiver went from being a “chalk” position two weeks ago to being very fluid now. Could Justin Brown go from receiving first team reps to being cut? I suppose it’s possible but still don’t see it as the likely scenario. He did get chewed out once Thursday but he still doesn’t have the issue of a string of negative plays Bryant does. I’ll admit I had Heyward-Bey crossed off this roster two weeks into camp and now, he’s got a shot. When healthy, he’s been productive and receiving more looks on special teams. He’s still no guarantee and becomes an obvious choice for a gameday inactive. But I’ll stretch my neck out on this one.
Tight Ends (3) – Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Michael Palmer
Analysis: This third spot still baffles me. Throw a dart, pick a name out of a hat, you’ll have as good of a guess as I do. Palmer played on two first team special teams units – the edge protector on punt protection/coverage and field goal protection – over David Paulson in Thursday’s game. He’s also the better blocker and that’s the only viable use for a #3 TE.
Offensive Line (9) – Kelvin Beachum, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Marcus Gilbert, Guy Whimper, Mike Adams, Cody Wallace, Wesley Johnson
Analysis: Can’t bring myself to make any changes here. Think Mike Munchak gets his way by keeping nine lineman.
Defensive Lineman (6) – Cameron Heyward, Cam Thomas, Stephon Tuitt, Steve McLendon, Brett Keisel, Daniel McCullers
Analysis: No differences from last time. No reason to keep a fifth defensive end when these six are all end-capable. McCullers is the one player who I wouldn’t expect to make it through waivers unclaimed. Combine his measurable with tape that shows him doing things most nose tackles can’t do, like chase running backs 16 yards downfield, and someone would pull the trigger.
Inside Linebackers (5) – Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Sean Spence, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin
Analysis: All five can rest comfortably. No threat of a cut here.
Outside Linebackers (4) – Jason Worilds, Jarvis Jones, Arthur Moats, Chris Carter
Analysis: I know Jones is the flavor of the month but my brain tells me he is destined for the practice squad. Two weeks ago, linebackers coach Keith Butler referred to Jones as “very, very raw”. Those types of players rarely make a 53. It’s not as if Jones has taken the league by storm in his opportunities, either. He has zero sacks and only one or two hurries.
Cornerbacks (5) – Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen, William Gay, Antwon Blake, Brice McCain
Analysis: No changes here. We’re close to writing in ink McCain being active on game day. He filled in as the nickelback for the one play William Gay missed. Combine that with first team special teams’ work, and you have a player who is going to dress.
Safety (5) – Troy Polamalu, Mike Mitchell, Shamarko Thomas, Will Allen, Robert Golden
Analysis: Only way this changes is if Will Allen gets cut. Doesn’t seem likely. Jordan Dangerfield is out of the picture.
Kicker (1) – Shaun Suisham
Analysis: No explanation needed. Though Suisham’s misses have started to become concerning.
Punter (1) – TBA
Analysis: Cop out here. But Brad Wing had an ugly showing Thursday. Is anyone confident that he can be consistent over a full season? Look for the Steelers to explore the waiver wire.
Long Snapper (2) – Luke Ingram, Greg Warren
Analysis: We’ll see if Warren can make it back for the start of the season. Going to take a stab at it and say he misses the first week. Bryce Davis did start Thursday’s game but my money is still on Ingram, who has a little more experience under him.
Practice Squad (10) – Rob Blanchflower, Ethan Hemer, Chris Hubbard, Howard Jones, Landry Jones, Josh Mauro, Tauren Poole, Shaquille Richardson, Devin Smith, Ross Ventrone
Analysis: Bit the bullet and cut Zumwalt outright. Could Richardson be next? It’s not realistic to think three late round rookies who have missed significant amounts of time are all going to be able to find a home.
Hemer and Smith are hunches. If the team adds a fourth running back to the 53, consider Poole to be expendable. Ventrone plays with as much effort as anyone. Perfect scout team material. He’ll likely yo-yo on and off the roster again.
Howard Jones shuffles down to the practice squad.
Although part of me wanted to keep him because of his scout team value, Eric Waters lost out to the numbers crunch. With six receivers on the 53, Derek Moye can be cut.
Remember one spot could become available if one of these ten are promoted to the 53 following Warren’s return.
Game Day Inactives (7): Mike Adams, Martavis Bryant, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Wesley Johnson, Daniel McCullers, Greg Warren
2014 Steelers 53 Man Roster Prediction Post Third Preseason Game Edition
|PRACTICE SQUAD (10)|