After several injuries and one unfortunate suspension, I take another shot at predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers final 53-man roster. I look forward to watching many of the remaining roster battles get settled up until September 1st or even September 5th, when first and second cuts are, respectively.
Quarterbacks (3): Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick, Landry Jones
Analysis: (One Change) Any hope we still had that Jones would not make the 53-man roster was officially eliminated when Bruce Gradkowski was placed on injured reserve with a hand injury this week. Vick will likely eventually become the team’s #2 quarterback, but Jones will hold the position at least temporarily until Vick can master the offense.
Running Backs (4): DeAngelo Williams, Josh Harris, Will Johnson, Dri Archer
Analysis: (No Changes) This is still assuming Harris’ foot is good to go by Week 1, but there shouldn’t be any changes here until Le’Veon Bell returns from suspension.
Wide Receivers (5): Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Sammie Coates, Tyler Murphy
Analysis: (One Change) The Martavis Bryant suspension is good for one person and one person alone, and that individual is Tyler Murphy. He’s the leader to make the roster as the team’s fifth wide receiver, but the competition between he, Shakim Phillips, and C.J. Goodwinwill likely go down to the wire this preseason.
Tight Ends (3): Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Jesse James
Analysis: (No Changes) This group is absolutely locked in.
Offensive Line (8): Kelvin Beachum, Marcus Gilbert, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Cody Wallace, Doug Legursky, B.J. Finney, Alejandro Villanueva
Analysis: (One Change) Pittsburgh might have the worst offensive line depth in the NFL, and with Maurkice Pouncey out for at least the first ten weeks of the season, one more injury could seriously derail a previously formidable group. I like Finney and Villanueva to grab those last two positional spots, as Chris Hubbard continues to show me nothing in preseason action. Also a distinct possibility that the team grabs someone on cutdown day and places Finney on the practice squad.
Defensive Line (6): Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Steve McLendon, Daniel McCullers, Cam Thomas, L.T. Walton
Analysis: (No Change) Walton should have a stranglehold on the final defensive line spot, as he’s easily outplayed Ethan Hemer to this point in the offseason. Big opportunities for those two and Joe Kruger to make their case over the final two preseason games.
Outside Linebackers (5): Jarvis Jones, Arthur Moats, James Harrison, Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo
Analysis: (No Change) Still sticking with Chickillo to make the final 53. I know it is the road less traveled by the Steelers, but this linebacker group deserves ten spots.
Inside Linebackers (5): Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Sean Spence, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin
Analysis: (No Change) As locked in as a positional group can be on this roster.
Cornerbacks (6): William Gay, Cortez Allen, Brandon Boykin, Antwon Blake, B.W. Webb, Doran Grant
Analysis: (No Change) Kevin Fogg continues to push hard, but Webb should still be the sixth cornerback when the final cuts occur. He’s more versatile and experienced, as well as an excellent special teamer. Also seems well-respected amongst his peers.
Safeties (5): Shamarko Thomas, Mike Mitchell, Will Allen, Robert Golden, Alden Darby
Analysis: (No Change) I’m still continuing to go against my personal opinion and put Darby on the 53-man roster over Ian Wild. Both have had very strong preseasons, and this spot could come down to how they play over the final two preseason games.
Special Teams (3): Brad Wing, Garrett Hartley, Greg Warren
Analysis: (No Change) The battle between Wing and Jordan Berry is intense. I’m almost wishing I went with my gut and stuck with Berry after a weak beginning to camp. He has a chance to wrestle away the roster spot from Wing if he can be consistent against Buffalo and Carolina. That is, provided both players survive the first round of cuts, which is certainly no guarantee.
Reserve/Suspended: Le’Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant
Reserve/PUP: Senquez Golson, Mike Adams
IR/Designated to Return: C Maurkice Pouncey
Practice Squad (10): WR Shakim Phillips, CB Kevin Fogg, DE Ethan Hemer, OT/OG Mitchell Van Dyk, OLB Howard Jones, S Ian Wild, WR C.J. Goodwin, RB Jawon Chisholm, TE Cameron Clear, DE Joe Kruger
Analysis: (Two Changes) With Murphy going to the 53-man roster, a spot opens up for Phillips to join the practice squad. If Howard Jones can continue to build on a strong showing against Green Bay, he can still find a spot among this group. If a new offensive lineman is added to the final roster, which seems likely, I expect Finney to be bumped into this group and knock off either Hemer, Kruger, or Jones.