The Pittsburgh Steelers now have a game under their belts and the players have some snaps now on film, so we can start to get an oh-so-slightly clearer picture of how the roster is unfolding. As shouldn’t be surprising, I’ve made a handful of changes already, and more should be expected in the coming weeks. I’ve made four swaps to the 53-man roster, and five on the practice squad, some due to injury.
Quarterback (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Dustin Vaughan
Analysis: One change. It’s certainly starting to look like Bruce Gradkowski’s playing days might be done. At this point it may be too late to try to bring in somebody else, so Vaughan is who they ride with in the third seat.
Running Back (3) – DeAngelo Williams, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Daryl Richardson
Analysis: No change. But I might put Richardson ahead of Toussaint at this point.
Fullback (1) – Roosevelt Nix
Analysis: No change. No other options, really, though David Johnson is his backup.
Tight End (4) – Ladarius Green, Jesse James, David Johnson, Xavier Grimble
Analysis: No change. Yet. I can see this changing easily, but a lot of it has to do with how Grimble looks over the course of the next few weeks.
Wide Receiver (5) – Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Eli Rogers
Analysis: I’m beginning to feel like the Steelers want to get Demarcus Ayers on the practice squad. Rogers didn’t have an incredibly active preseason debut, but they haven’t been secret about liking him a lot.
Offensive Tackle (4) – Alejandro Villanueva, Marcus Gilbert, Ryan Harris, Jerald Hawkins
Analysis: No change, obviously. But the Steelers had better find a starter between Villanueva and Harris. And Hawkins better get over that shoulder injury.
Interior Offensive Line (5) – Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Cody Wallace, Chris Hubbard
Analysis: I’m probably going to be flip-flopping between Hubbard and B.J. Finney for a while, but Hubbar’s versatility gives him the edge until I manage to get both of them on the roster. Which I might.
Defensive Ends (4) – Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Ricardo Mathews, L.T. Walton
Analysis: No change. These clearly looked like the four best defensive ends, without question.
Nose Tackle (2) – Daniel McCullers, Javon Hargrave
Analysis: No change. And the depth chart could flip sooner rather than later.
Outside Linebacker (5) – James Harrison, Jarvis Jones, Arthur Moats, Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo
Analysis: No change. Travis Feeney appears to be healthy now, but he still has an uphill climb, even with Chickillo now dinged.
Inside Linebacker (5) – Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, Steven Johnson, L.J. Fort
Analysis: No change, yet. I’m still giving Johnson a roster spot, but Tyler Matakevich could make a push, and I’m not leaving out Jordan Zumwalt just yet, who’s been working with the OLBs to expand his versatility lately.
Cornerback (5) – William Gay, Ross Cockrell, Artie Burns, Doran Grant, [not on the roster]
Analysis: At this point, I have to believe that if there is a fifth cornerback on the opening day roster, it’s somebody not on the team—though technically that might be Burns or Grant, with Sean Davis being part of the cornerback depth.
Safety (4) – Mike Mitchell, Robert Golden, Sean Davis, Shamarko Thomas
Analysis: No change, for now, but a safety could make it as a special teamer given the lack of depth in the secondary right now.
Special Teams (3)
Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell
Analysis: No change. Uncontested.
Punter (1) – Jordan Berry
Analysis: No change. Berry looked rejuvenated in his preseason debut. Will Monday didn’t look ready for Sunday football. And I’m not too proud to use a bad pun, unfortunately.
Long Snapper (1) – Greg Warren
Analysis: No change. Get back to me in 2030. Maybe then.
Practice Squad: RB Brandon Brown-Dukes, WR Demarcus Ayers, WR Cobi Hamilton, OL B.J. Finney, DE Caushaud Lyons, DT Lavon Hooks, ILB Tyler Matakevich, OLB Travis Feeney, CB Montell Garner, S Jordan Dangerfield
Many changes. I flipped Ayers and Rogers, and added Hamilton, who takes over for Caanan Severin after he got injured. Both wore the same jersey number though, so that counts, right? I flipped Finney and Hubbard as well, and replaced Giorgio Newberry with Lyons. I had Al-Hajj Shabazz making the practice squad because of his intriguing height, but the team is liking Garner right now for his slot capabilities, which they lack at the moment. The other five spots remain the same for now.