At this point in the offseason, we find that training camp is just around the corner for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the rest of the league, and a lot has changed for them over the course of the past several months. They have lost a number of players in free agency, through releases, and retirements. But they have also brought in a number of new faces to replace them.
We all know that roster turnover is an ever-present reality for today’s rosters, and it seems that over the course of the past half-decade or so even the Steelers have proven to be as susceptible to the annual shakeup as anybody. With that in mind, we should take the time to get to know some of the new faces with training camp soon to be here.
As with one or two others mentioned here, offensive lineman B.J. Finney is not entirely a new face, but rather one who was with the organization since the draft, originally signing afterward as an undrafted free agent, and subsequently spending most of the season on their practice squad, after he recovered from an initial injury.
But he gets mentioned here because he stands poised to serve as a new face on the Steelers’ 53-man roster—that is, assuming that he can beat out his competition, which is likely to come directly in the form of Chris Hubbard, entering his fourth season with the team overall, including a year of seasoning on the practice squad.
Hubbard managed to make the 53-man roster in each of the past two seasons after spending that year in 2013 on the practice squad, and Finney is hoping to take that same path, making the jump from practice squad player to contributor on the 53-man roster, but in order to do so, he likely will have to unseat Hubbard.
There are, no doubt, many who would contend that that should be a rather simple feat, and, no doubt, those people would be speaking primarily from the memories of his preseason showing in 2015, during which he spent most of his time playing out of position at center.
For as much grief as he might receive, Hubbard has been around for three years now and is well-liked, it appears, by the coaching staff, so it will not be easy to move him out of his roster spot. That does not mean, however, that it can’t happen.
I speculated that Finney would unseat him by the end of the preseason in my initial 53-man roster projection, but it is still an uphill battle as the challenger and not the incumbent. It goes without saying that the preseason will greatly serve to inform this particular roster battle.