Quarterback (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick, Landry Jones
Analysis: One change. It’s no surprise that the Steelers went out to sign a veteran to replace Bruce Gradkowski. Jones was never going to be the number two this season, so that should not be seen as an indictment from the team.
Running backs (3) – DeAngelo Williams, Dri Archer, Josh Harris
Analysis: No changes. Harris does need to get healthy, however, even if there is not much competition for what will likely be a temporary roster spot.
Fullback (1) – Will Johnson
Analysis: No changes. There was never any meaningful competition for him.
Wide Receiver (5) – Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates, Darrius Heyward-Bey, C.J. Goodwin
Analysis: I’m not entirely certain why everybody is in a rush to throw a roster spot at Tyler Murphy after one game. Perhaps it’s recency bias. Goodwin missed a game and Murphy showed up in that game. But I wouldn’t be giving Murphy the edge over Goodwin just yet. I would like to see more out of the quarterback before keeping him over a player they carried on the practice squad all year in spite of never getting a look at him in a game.
Tight End (3) – Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Jesse James
Analysis: No changes. While he didn’t do much in the last preseason game, James had a strong showing in the second game, and he does contribute on special teams.
Tackle (4) – Kelvin Beachum, Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams, Alejandro Villanueva
Analysis: No changes. I’m still assuming that Adams is activated off the PUP list before the start of the season. If he’s not, that means he will be out at least the first month and a half of the season, which would be an absurd decision unless his back issue is notably more serious than we are aware of.
Guard (3) – Ramon Foster, David DeCastro, B.J. Finney
Analysis: No changes. Finney has clearly been the best reserve guard of the group, significantly better than Chris Hubbard, who has been not far from awful more often than not.
Center (2) – Cody Wallace, Doug Legursky
Analysis: One change, which a technicality. Maurkice Pouncey will obviously be on the initial 53-man roster in order to be placed on the injured reserve list with a return designation. Legursky is brought in to be the game day active interior reserve with Wallace moving into the starting lineup.
Defensive End (4) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Cam Thomas, L.T. Walton
Analysis: No changes. Walton showed strides in his pass rush potential in the last game, as he continues to learn how to win earlier on in the down. Thomas finally got some snaps at defensive end and did not look out of place.
Nose Tackle (2) – Steve McLendon, Daniel McCullers
Analysis: No changes. McCullers showed well in his first game of the preseason, not that he needed to to justify his roster spot. Thomas will also likely see some snaps at nose tackle.
Outside Linebacker (5) – Jarvis Jones, Arthur Moats, James Harrison, Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo
Analysis: No changes. Chickillo is too solid of a player right now for me to even consider subjecting him to waivers when I don’t believe there’s any pressing need to do so, and I take the Steelers’ decision to work him all over the special teams units as a sign pointing to the fact that they are in agreement.
Inside Linebacker (5) – Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Sean Spence, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin
Analysis: No changes. Garvin continues to show during the preseason that he is not just a special teams player, but is somebody who can contribute on defense, if given the opportunity.
Cornerback (6) – William Gay, Cortez Allen, Antwon Blake, Brandon Boykin, Doran Grant, B.W. Webb
Analysis: No changes. Unless Kevin Fogg forces the Steelers’ hand by playing exceptionally well in the final two preseason games, the he and Webb are even enough to err on the chance of keeping both, with Fogg’s practice squad eligibility. Webb is also more experienced on both special teams and in the slot.
Safety (4) – Mike Mitchell, Shamarko Thomas, Will Allen, Robert Golden
Analysis: No changes. The Steelers seem to have some depth safeties that they like, but none that they need to keep on the 53-man roster. I think Ross Ventrone’s special teams productivity can be replaced. With Thomas and Blake healthy, they will be the starting gunners anyway.
Kicker (1) – Garrett Hartley
Analysis: No changes. It seems likely they will probably stick with Hartley even through the waiver wire.
Punter (1) – Brad Wing
Analysis: No changes. Jordan Berry has made this battle almost neck-and-neck, however, but he has more to prove than does Wing, so he has to keep up the pace through the last two games to get the spot.
Long Snapper (1) – Greg Warren
Analysis: No change. No competition.
Reserve/Suspended (2) – Le’Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant
Practice Squad (10) – Jawon Chisholm, Shakim Phillips, Tyler Murphy, Ian Wild, Alden Darby, Cameron Clear, Chris Hubbard, Ethan Hemer, Kevin Fogg, Mitchell Van Dyk
Analysis: One change, promoting Goodwin to the 53-man roster due to Bryant’s suspension and giving that spot back to Phillips. I am keeping 13 defensive backs in total with Fogg, Wild, and Darby, all of whom have shown well on both defense and special teams.
Hubbard is still the interior lineman that I most expect to make the practice squad, unless the Steelers want Van Dyk to get some work inside during practice as well.
It’s worth noting that I do not make cross-roster projections, which is the reason that players such as Josh Mauro and Wesley Johnson are not on my lists. I stick with the current 90-man roster, but I think there’s a chance Johnson is released and claimed off waivers by the Steelers.
Mauro seems to be on the outside of the roster bubble as well, but I don’t know that the Steelers would claim him in order to carry him over Walton. However, should he go unclaimed, I figure they would add him to the practice squad over Hemer.