The Pittsburgh Steelers are through the preseason now, and the 53-man roster will be finalized tomorrow—at least the initial one will be. To get in under the line, here is my prediction.
Quarterback (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Zach Mettenberger
Analysis: Obviously a change here. The Steelers claimed Mettenberger for a reason, and moved Bruce Gradkowski to injured reserve.
Running Back (3) – DeAngelo Williams, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Daryl Richardson
Analysis: No change. Not changes, and I’m not sure if the Steelers will still stick with Toussaint ahead of Richardson. Richardson has clearly been the better runner.
Fullback (1) – Roosevelt Nix
Analysis: No change. Hopefully whatever injury he has is a non-issue two weeks from now.
Tight End (3) – Jesse James, David Johnson, Xavier Grimble
Analysis: One change. Obviously Ladarius Green has moved to the Reserve/PUP List. Grimble will make the initial 53-man roster, but I do think he will stick until Green gets back, barring him falling on his face.
Wide Receiver (5) – Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Eli Rogers, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Sammie Coates
Analysis: No changes. Right now I have Coates on the bottom of the depth chart, and in same games he may not dress.
Offensive Tackle (3) – Alejandro Villanueva, Marcus Gilbert, Ryan Harris
Analysis: No changes, as the Steelers really have no other options.
Analysis: Interior Offensive Line (6) – Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Cody Wallace, Chris Hubbard, B.J. Finney
Analysis: No changes, and obviously Hubbard will also be viewed as part of the tackle depth, as last year.
Defensive Ends (4) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Ricardo Mathews, L.T. Walton
Analysis: No change, but that could change once we learn more about the injuries. Caushaud Lyons could make the initial roster because of that.
Nose Tackle (2) – Javon Hargrave, Daniel McCullers
Analysis: No change, but Hargrave played ahead of McCullers last night, so for now I’m considering him the starter.
Outside Linebacker (5) – James Harrison, Jarvis Jones, Arthur Moats, Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo
Analysis: No change. Nobody else has even come close to showing themselves as an option.
Inside Linebacker (5) – Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, Steven Johnson, L.J. Fort
Analysis: No change. Tyler Matakevich did make a tackle on special teams, but I just didn’t see enough in his preseason finale performance to convince me that the Steelers will carry him over Johnson or Fort, the latter of whom has consistently run with the second-team defense and played well.
Cornerback (5) – William Gay, Ross Cockrell, Artie Burns, Doran Grant, Al-Hajj Shabazz
Analysis: One change. Of course, Senquez Golson will be on the day-one roster before moving to injured reserve. I think the Steelers have been feeding Shabazz special teams snaps with the idea of increasing his value, and he may make the roster because of that, at least temporarily before another option is found off waivers or some players get back from injuries.
Safety (5) – Mike Mitchell, Robert Golden, Sean Davis, Shamarko Thomas, Jordan Dangerfield
Analysis: No changes. Because of special teams needs and lack of compelling depth elsewhere, the Steelers do end up carrying 10 defensive backs, with Dangerfield as a fifth safety and special teamer while Thomas recovers.
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. Though his final preseason contest was underwhelming.
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, TE Paul Lang, CB Montell Garner, T Matt Feiler
A couple of changes. I’m putting Al-Hajj Shabazz on the 53-man roster. With Green on the PUP List, they carry another tight end with Lang. I previously projected a waiver pickup as the practice squad lineman, but for now I’m giving the nod to Feiler, who plays both inside and outside.