After having reviewed the tape from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ third preseason game, here are my predictions for the 53-man roster as it currently stands. Note that the last several spots can change dramatically in the final preseason game, which is often largely dedicated to eking out those last few roster spot battles.
Quarterback (3): Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski, Landry Jones
Gradkowski solidified his position as the backup quarterback with his performance against the Eagles last week. I’m very close to leaving Jones off the list, but am waiting to see what he does in the last preseason game, because I think the Steelers are waiting too. If the Steelers need to carry an extra long snapper to start the season, it may be his spot bumped to the practice squad for a week or two until Warren is ready.
Running Back (4): Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount, Dri Archer, Will Johnson
None of the other backs have shown anything of note that would demand being kept on the 53-man roster. Several of them will battle for a roster squad spot in the next game. the Steelers could pick up a back off of waivers.
Wide Receiver (6): Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore, Martavis Bryant, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Justin Brown
If it’s not Jones’ spot, it will probably be Justin Brown’s sacrificed to carry an extra long snapper if it comes to that, but that depends on how he performs in the last game after disappointing so far in game action.
Tight End (3): Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, David Paulson
Paulson is still the incumbent for the third tight end spot, but the other tight ends should get plenty of work this week to make a final determination. However, I don’t believe Paulson played at all in the last game. I’m not sure what they means.
Offensive Line (9): Kelvin Beachum, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Marcus Gilbert, Cody Wallace, Mike Adams, Guy Whimper, Wesley Johnson
Whimper sticks around because there’s just nobody else at tackle. Johnson has shown that he can contribute in the interior as a rookie, but will need to get stronger in year two to be a backup tackle.
Defensive Line (6): Brett Keisel, Steve McLendon, Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Daniel McCullers, Cam Thomas
Probably not any surprises here. It seems like the Steelers will carry McCullers no matter what and allow him to work through his struggles in a redshirt season. Mauro likely is headed for the practice squad with Keisel back.
Linebacker (9): Jarvis Jones, Ryan Shazier, Lawrence Timmons, Jason Worilds, Arthur Moats, Sean Spence, Vince Williams, Chris Carter, Terence Garvin
Carter is hanging on by a thread, as the other two OLBs should get plenty of reps in the final game to state their case. Garvin is too valuable to not make the roster.
Cornerback (5): Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen, William Gay, Antwon Blake, Brice McCain
Shaquille Richardson will need to have an Allen-like final preseason game to make the roster. Blake and McCain are both significant special teams contributors.
Safety (5): Troy Polamalu, Mike Mitchell, Will Allen, Shamarko Thomas, Robert Golden
No reason to pass up on any of these five, unless Jordan Dangerfield can compel the coaching staff to let Allen go in the last preseason game.
Special Teams (3): Shaun Suisham, Greg Warren, Brad Wing
Wing will make the final roster, but only because he’s the only one there. It may not be long before he’s replaced. I’m working under the assumption that Warren will be ready for the season. The Steelers could cut him and re-sign him after week two if he’s not ready.
Practice Squad (10): Stephen Houston, Kashif Moore, Rob Blanchflower, Chris Hubbard, Nick Williams, Josh Mauro, Jordan Zumwalt, Shaquille Richardson, Isaiah Green, Howard Jones
There are some raw talent prospects on this list, such as Williams, Houston, and Jones. Three of the rookies get a redshirt year on the practice squad. Green and Moore make it for special teams potential. Hubbard is the best of the rest.