The Pittsburgh Steelers are past the ‘dress rehearsal’ game now against the Saints, and the vast majority of the roster is pretty much cemented. Only a final couple of roster spots are left to be sorted out in the preseason finale.
Quarterback (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Bruce Gradkowski
Analysis: No changes. Dustin Vaughan is no longer even on the roster, and Brynn Renner doesn’t have enough time to make a case for himself.
Running Back (3) – DeAngelo Williams, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Daryl Richardson
Analysis: No change. The first three weeks will likely determine who between Toussaint and Richardson stays on the 53-man roster.
Fullback (1) – Roosevelt Nix
Analysis: No change. Hopefully whatever injury he has is a non-issue two weeks from now.
Tight End (4) – Ladarius Green, Jesse James, David Johnson, Xavier Grimble
Analysis: One change. Grimble is back. He played well against the Saints, and Hawkins’ injury opens a spot.
Wide Receiver (5) – Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Eli Rogers
Analysis: No changes. If you still wondered if Rogers is a lock, last game answered it with his usage.
Offensive Tackle (3) – Alejandro Villanueva, Marcus Gilbert, Ryan Harris
Analysis: One change. I hate when changes come due to injury, but it looks like once again the team will only carry three true tackles following Hawkins’ injury.
Analysis: Interior Offensive Line (6) – Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Cody Wallace, Chris Hubbard, B.J. Finney
Analysis: No changes, and now it seems virtually assured that both Hubbard and Finney make the roster.
Defensive Ends (4) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Ricardo Mathews, L.T. Walton
Analysis: No change. Walton returned and both he and Mathews played well. They will be needed to spell Heyward nursing an ankle injury.
Nose Tackle (2) – Daniel McCullers, Javon Hargrave
Analysis: No change. Hargrave is really threatening to log more time at nose tackle than McCullers.
Outside Linebacker (5) – James Harrison, Jarvis Jones, Arthur Moats, Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo
Analysis: No change. RIP to the Jordan Zumwalt fan club. Travis Feeney, report to the practice squad.
Inside Linebacker (5) – Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, Steven Johnson, L.J. Fort
Analysis: No change. This one is perhaps the only, or one of very few, rosters spots to be sorted out in the final preseason game. Tyler Matakevich is going to see a lot of playing time, hopefully both on defense and on special teams. It’s his job to win, but otherwise, Johnson is the proven commodity on special teams for the fifth position.
Cornerback (4) – William Gay, Ross Cockrell, Artie Burns, Doran Grant
Analysis: One change. This position more than any other is likely to see a waiver wire addition, but for now, Garner still seems the most likely, with Al-Hajj Shabazz the other option.
Safety (5) – Mike Mitchell, Robert Golden, Sean Davis, Shamarko Thomas, Jordan Dangerfield
Analysis: One change. With Thomas’ injury, and nobody stepping up at cornerback, Jordan Dangerfield may well make the initial 53-man roster. Whether that lasts more than a day or no, I can’t say.
Special Teams (3)
Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell
Analysis: No change. Uncontested.
Punter (1) – Jordan Berry
Analysis: No change. The job is now won, and earned.
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, DE Caushaud Lyons, DT Lavon Hooks, ILB Tyler Matakevich, OLB Travis Feeney, CB Al-Hajj Shabazz, CB Montell Garner, T Waiver Wire
A couple of changes. I flipped Garner and Dangerfield, with the latter now on the 53-man roster, due to Thomas’ injury and the lack of a quality option at cornerback. Dangerfield would seem a better fifth safety and special teamer than any fifth option at cornerback.
With Hawkins’ move to injured reserve, it also becomes assured that the Steelers will add an offensive tackle to the practice squad, and it is overwhelmingly likely to come from some other team’s 90-man roster.