Quarterback (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski, Landry Jones
Analysis: No changes. I’ve been telling you this whole time the Steelers are constitutionally opposed to carrying only two quarterbacks. That was reaffirmed recently.
Running backs (3) – DeAngelo Williams, Dri Archer, Josh Harris
Analysis: No changes. There’s no reason to fiddle with this just yet. The only holdup would be if Harris develops an injury issue.
Fullback (1) – Will Johnson
Analysis: No changes. Roosevelt Nix has shown some nice things, including on special teams, but Johnson is a valued member of the offense (as well as special teams). Perhaps if things look questionable enough, Nix could latch on to the tail end of the practice squad if he continues to show on special teams.
Wide Receiver (5) – Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates, Darrius Heyward-Bey
Analysis: No changes. The way this roster is constituted this year really doesn’t even make much sense to carry six wide receivers, which is a rarity as it is. The Steelers added a key defensive free agent and are likely to have perhaps four defensive rookies on the roster.
Tight End (3) – Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Jesse James
Analysis: No changes. James allayed many fears after a nice bounce-back game the last time out, as I broke down earlier today.
Tackle (4) – Kelvin Beachum, Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams, Alejandro Villanueva
Analysis: No changes. The Army veteran struggled a bit more his second time out, but still played fairly well. He actually improved in the run game a bit, perhaps. Adams’ injury could potentially linger, resulting in him starting the regular season on the PUP, but I find that unlikely given that it would require him to miss at least the first six games.
Guard (3) – Ramon Foster, David DeCastro, B.J. Finney
Analysis: One change. Again. In spite of his struggles in the first game, I gave Chris Hubbard the benefit of the doubt and put him back on the 53 after all of his competition also struggled. After another very poor performance, which I broke down earlier today, and a good showing this time out from Finney, which I will break down tomorrow, I’m predicting that this is how the preseason will play out in the end.
Center (2) – Maurkice Pouncey, Cody Wallace
Analysis: No changes. Wallace is a solid veteran, and whoever makes it between Finney and Hubbard will have also had experience at center for an emergency situation.
Defensive End (4) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Cam Thomas, L.T. Walton
Analysis: No changes. This seems to be fairly well set at this point, even if Walton still has work to do. He got first-team reps in practice when Tuitt sat out. Ethan Hemer could still make a push, however.
Nose Tackle (2) – Steve McLendon, Daniel McCullers
Analysis: No changes. McCullers is set to get back on the field, hopefully affirming his spot as the second-team nose tackle, which Thomas has largely been playing, but playing pretty well.
Outside Linebacker (5) – Jarvis Jones, Arthur Moats, James Harrison, Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo
Analysis: No changes. I’m sticking with the five outside linebackers and 10 linebackers total, in spite of the fact that it’s such a rarity. This group of linebackers, in the context of the total makeup of the roster, is also rare, and I think this will be the right decision for the long-term.
Inside Linebacker (5) – Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Sean Spence, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin
Analysis: No changes. Garvin is too valuable on special teams, and, as I broke down earlier today, has made significant strides as a defender from his rookie season. He is qualified to contribute in that capacity.
Cornerback (6) – William Gay, Cortez Allen, Antwon Blake, Brandon Boykin, Doran Grant, B.W. Webb
Analysis: No changes. For now. I am keeping Kevin Fogg off the roster for now over Webb in part because I don’t believe that Webb has practice squad eligibility available, so carrying Webb will give them the opportunity to keep both. Even as Fogg has integrated himself onto special teams, however, Webb has also been a bit ahead in that area, and that is the main factor for a sixth cornerback.
I do not rule out the possibility, however, that Fogg simply plays too well not to keep on the roster, regardless of whether or not they have any legitimate fear of losing him on waivers. He had five interceptions in camp and one in the preseason. This one is going to go down to the wire.
Safety (4) – Mike Mitchell, Shamarko Thomas, Will Allen, Robert Golden
Analysis: No changes. As much as the Steelers have managed to assemble a nice collection of safeties to compete for a roster spot, it just doesn’t seem as though there will be room for a fifth. However, I think they make up for that by keeping two on the practice squad. The extra linebackers offer better upside as combination defensive and special teams contributors.
Kicker (1) – Garrett Hartley
Analysis: No changes. They will monitor the waiver wire after final cuts, however.
Punter (1) – Brad Wing
Analysis: No changes. Jordan Berry showed off a big leg with good hang time in the preseason opener, and is gaining ground. This is the other remaining position battle.
Long Snapper (1) – Greg Warren
Analysis: No change. No competition.
Reserve/Suspended (1) – Le’Veon Bell
Analysis: He is suspended, after all.
Practice Squad (10) – Jawon Chisholm, C.J. Goodwin, Tyler Murphy, Ian Wild, Alden Darby, Cameron Clear, Chris Hubbard, Ethan Hemer, Kevin Fogg, Mitchell Van Dyk
Analysis: Four changes. Partly due to roster changes. I have Finney and Hubbard flipping spots on the 53 and practice squad. Murphy’s versatility and upside win out over Shakim Phillips’ drops. I replace Gerod Holliman, who I held on to assuming the team would ultimately skew toward the pick numbers, with both Wild and Darby.
I have since reinterpreted the practice squad rules and thus no longer have Ross Ventrone listed because I no longer believe he is eligible due to having dressed too many games last year.
Chisholm is clearly the only realistic inside option to serve as the extra back during Bell’s suspension, while Clear is the only realistic inside option at tight end.
Hemer and Fogg are both fringe 53 candidates if they outperform their competition down the preseason stretch. Fogg in particular, I think, has a real shot of forcing the team’s hand to keep him. Finally, I carry an extra, 11, lineman, a primary tackle in Van Dyk, due to Adams’ injury situation. If that gets sorted out by September, then the spot may go to somebody like Nix who shows up on special teams.