The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their second preseason game of 2014 Saturday night against the Buffalo Bills at Heinz Field and several roster spots are still up for grabs. Head coach Mike Tomlin said this past week that he expects a few players to make moves this week and below are 15 players on the roster bubble that should be watched closely in this game.
Brian Arnfelt – Has Arnfelt fallen too far out of favor with the coaching staff already? It sure looks that way based on him playing with the third-team last week against the New York Giants. We will see if he gets second-team reps this week and if he doesn’t, he’s going to have to hope for the practice squad once again.
Bryant Browning – Browning might be too far outside of the bubble already, but if the Steelers decide to keep nine offensive linemen this year, he might still have a tiny chance at being No. 9. Being limited to just playing right guard, however, won’t help his cause and he’s one player that is out of practice squad eligibility as well.
Chris Carter – If Jarvis Jones is held out with his groin problem, it will be interesting to see if Carter gets the start at right outside linebacker over Arthur Moats. A good game could solidify Carter’s roster spot for one more season.
Jordan Dangerfield – If Dangerfield is going to make the final 53, he’s going to have to do it on special teams. He’s a big hitter and needs to force a turnover or two against the Bills to start earning some much needed respect.
Darrius Heyward-Bey – A concussion prevented Heyward-Bey from playing last week, but he should be good to go against the Bills. Like most of the other bubble players on this list, the former first-round draft pick needs to be a special teams warrior. Watch closely to see how many snaps he gets on the four primary return and coverage teams. It’s his last chance.
Chris Hubbard – Hubbard didn’t help his cause last week with his play against the Giants when he entered the game after Ramon Foster was done. There’s a decent chance that Foster won’t play against the Bills and if backup center Cody Wallace gets the start at left guard instead of Hubbard, that won’t be a good sign for the UAB product.
Wesley Johnson – Will Johnson be stuck as the third-team center once again or will he get to play some left tackle or left guard? If he isn’t allowed to show more position flexibility, he might be headed for the practice squad.
Howard Jones – It seems like every year that there is an undrafted outside linebacker that makes some noise during training camp and the preseason and they usually wind up failing to make the final 53 man roster. Jones has a good shot but he needs to make a few more special team splash plays.
Josh Mauro – Mauro had a good first showing last week against the Giants as a second-team defensive end and needs to follow that up with another good game against the Bills.
Brice McCain – Judging by the rotation being used at cornerback, McCain appears to be inside the bubble. Can he stay there?
Daniel McCullers – Big Dan needs to build on his strong showing last week. Will he get into the game this week before Hebron Fangupo?
David Paulson – By default, Paulson appears to be the front runner for the No. 3 tight end spot if the team decides to keep that many. It would be nice to see him start run blocking a little better, but we’ve been saying that going on three preseasons. Count his special teams snaps closely.
Tauren Poole – Poole needs to show more as a ball carrier and as a pass protector. If Josh Harris enters the game before he does this week, that won’t be a good sign. He’s almost too far outside the bubble as it is.
Shaquille Richardson – Richardson will likely only receive late reps once again and needs to make a splash play or two. His only saving grace right now is his measurables and the fact that he was a fifth-round draft pick. Can he contribute on special teams this week?
Guy Whimper – Rubble, rubble, rubble. If the team is going to keep Whimper once again, I sure hope they start giving him some reps at one of the two guard spots. Rubble, rubble, rubble.