Quarterback (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick, Landry Jones
Analysis: No changes. This is pretty well set in stone, and we should see plenty of both Vick and Jones in the final preseason game—hopefully Roethlisberger not at all, except on the sidelines.
Running backs (3) – DeAngelo Williams, Dri Archer, Josh Harris
Analysis: No changes. Harris simply has no meaningful competition to challenge what is now assuredly a temporary roster spot. It would certainly be comforting to see him play well in the preseason finale tonight.
Fullback (1) – Will Johnson
Analysis: No changes. And with him almost always playing tight end, the Steelers may not even carry another on the practice squad. They currently don’t even have any to do so.
Wide Receiver (5) – Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Tyler Murphy
Analysis: One change. After the suspension was first announced, I had C.J. Goodwin making the 53, but I would have taken him off now even if he were not cut. In fact, I was going to leave the team at just four wide receivers in total until I saw that I had just 22 players on offense. Adding Murphy stills brings us to a low 23, but the team may look to add a tackle.
Tight End (3) – Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Jesse James
Analysis: No changes. I think James has gotten a bit more criticism than has been warranted. He’s far from a finished product, but he can do some things now, including special teams. I don’t think he’s at any risk of being cut.
Tackle (3) – Kelvin Beachum, Marcus Gilbert, Alejandro Villanueva
Analysis: One change. With Mike Adams reverting to the Reserve/PUP List, obviously he will not be on the opening day 53-man roster. Unless the Steelers sign a veteran tackle after the final cuts, they should head into the season with only eight linemen after placing Maurkice Pouncey on the short-term injured reserve list.
Guard (3) – Ramon Foster, David DeCastro, B.J. Finney
Analysis: No changes. Finney has his warts, but he has clearly performed better than his competition.
Center (2) – Cody Wallace, Doug Legursky
Analysis: No changes. Legursky should get a lot of work tonight, because he needs it after being out of football for as long as he has. He should be the game day interior reserve, but should there be an injury at guard, I would not be surprised if the Steelers slide Wallace over to let Legursky play center.
Defensive End (4) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Cam Thomas, L.T. Walton
Analysis: No changes. Walton got a lot of playing time in the last preseason game, and should get plenty more tonight. He had some warts, to be sure, playing against first-teamers, but he’ll be playing against first-teamers in a game in the regular season anyway. Even though he played under Thomas, I still expect the veteran to be the third defensive end.
Nose Tackle (2) – Steve McLendon, Daniel McCullers
Analysis: No changes. McCullers still has room to grow—in his game, I mean—but he’s ready to contribute. I must say his work in the passing game was disappointing in the last game, however. It looked as though he was tired. He did get a lot of reps.
Outside Linebacker (5) – Jarvis Jones, Arthur Moats, James Harrison, Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo
Analysis: No changes. I think there’s an extra defensive spot open with Adams going on the PUP List, making Chickillo’s roster spot even safer. And he continues to be everywhere on special temas. They’re feeding him these third-phase reps for a reason.
Inside Linebacker (5) – Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Sean Spence, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin
Analysis: No changes. Garvin got caught a couple of times flat-footed after receptions in the last game, but don’t let that color your perception of his overall performance in that game, and in this preseason. If anything, he has only cemented his place on this roster over the course of this exhibition period.
Cornerback (6) – William Gay, Cortez Allen, Antwon Blake, Brandon Boykin, Doran Grant, B.W. Webb
Analysis: No changes. Kevin Fogg did little on defense to make the case for himself to claim a roster spot in the last game. He would seriously have to come down with a couple of interceptions and a pair of special teams tackles today in order to do so at this point.
Safety (5) – Mike Mitchell, Shamarko Thomas, Will Allen, Robert Golden, Ross Ventrone
Analysis: One change. Here is where the defense—or rather special teams—profits from the Adams move. They get to keep Ventrone around, who is arguably the team’s best gunner, with Blake the only other one a chance to make that claim. Golden has done well since returning.
Kicker (1) – Josh Scobee
Analysis: One change. The Steelers are giving up a late-round pick and $2.5 in salary for this one.
Punter (1) – Jordan Berry
Analysis: One change. It took almost all of preseason, but Berry finally separated himself enough from Brad Wing to nab the punting job.
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, C.J. Goodwin, Alden Darby, Roosevelt Nix, Chris Hubbard, Ethan Hemer, Matt Conrath, Kevin Fogg, Mitchell Van Dyk
Analysis: Three changes, I think. I’ve re-added Goodwin to the practice squad even though he was an early cut. The Steelers kept eight wide receivers in total last year. Having two on the practice squad would still only give them seven.
I’ve removed Ian Wild, and for now am keeping Darby. It’s possible that they’ve already bookmarked a practice squad spot for Gerod Holliman, even if he’s done nothing to warrant it. With Cameron Clear waived injured, I’m giving Nix the practice squad spot with Johnson playing mostly tight end and Nix doing well on special teams. I’ve given Conrath an eighth defensive line spot for now. He is a third-year player, but has never dressed nine games in a season, so he is eligible.
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.
Bottom line, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if two or three players not currently on the roster make it on the roster or the practice squad.