Even though there are three preseason games still remaining for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the roster battles for a few open spots are now clearly in focus. By my count, 46 of 54 roster spots (Le’Veon Bell plus 53) are locked up barring any future injuries as we sit here today. Those eight remaining spots figure to come from eight different positions and below is a look at all of the candidates.
Candidates: Landry Jones, Numbers Game, Not Currently On Team
Will the Steelers keep three quarterbacks once again? If they do, it’s going to be to Jones or a player that’s currently on another team’s 90 man roster. Jones hasn’t looked all that impressive in his first two preseason outings and if Bruce Gradkowski doesn’t play Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, we could see quite a bit more of the Oklahoma product in that game.
Candidates: Chris Hubbard, Miles Dieffenbach, B.J. Finney
While backup center Cody Wallace will more than likely be the primary backup at both guard positions again this year, the Steelers will probably keep another backup interior lineman on their final 53 man roster once again. Hubbard held that spot last season but he hasn’t been overly impressive in the team’s first two preseason games. With that said, Dieffenbach and Finney both haven’t jumped out on tape so far during the preseason.
Candidates: Mike Adams, Alejandro Villanueva, Numbers Game, PUP
There’s a good chance that both Adams and Villanueva make the final 53 this year. However, being as Adams has yet to practice so far during training camp, you can’t rule out the possibility of him starting the regular-season on Reserve PUP. So is this really even a battle? Probably not, as the bigger question seems to be whether or not Adams will be healthy come time for the final cut down.
6th Defensive Lineman
Candidates: L.T. Walton, Ethan Hemer
Assuming the Steelers will once again keep six defensive linemen on their final 53, this battle really comes down to Walton and Hemer at this point. The two have played about the same amount of snaps so far during the preseason and with three exhibition games still remaining, this might be one of the best battles left on the board to keep a close eye on.
5th Outside Linebacker:
Candidates: Anthony Chickillo, Numbers Game
Personally, I think Chickillo makes it as a fifth outside linebacker, but being as the Steelers could decide to only carry four outside linebackers in total, I think the only competition he faces at this point is the numbers game.
Candidates: B.W. Webb, Kevin Fogg
Assuming rookie Senquez Golson starts the season on the Reserve PUP list, Webb and Fogg have three games left to battle it out for the 6th cornerback spot, assuming that’s how many will be kept in total. This might very well come down to special teams play.
Candidates: Ross Ventrone, Ian Wild, Alden Darby
There’s no guarantee the Steelers even keep five safeties, but if they do, these three players are more than likely your candidates with Darby hanging on by a thread. Once again, if a fifth safety is kept, that player needs to be a special teams demon as he will more than likely be dressed on gamedays. Gerod Holliman, in my opinion, is battling for a spot on the practice squad.
Candidates: Brad Wing, Jordan Berry, Not On Team
Wing seems to have the upper hand right now over Berry through two preseason games. However, keep in mind that the Steelers punter for 2015 might not be on the roster right now. In other words, if another team cuts one that the Steelers like better, the organization might just claim him. This happened a few years ago.