Assuming the Pittsburgh Steelers current 53-man roster is indeed the one the team will open the 2016 regular season with, it does provide them quite a bit of flexibility from a management standpoint and especially when it comes to them potentially carrying injured cornerback Senquez Golson until he’s healthy and ready to play.
For starters, the Steelers decided to carry five total safeties on this year’s initial 53 and that number includes rookie Sean Davis, who is currently slated to be the team’s starting nickel back in their sub package personnel groupings. Jordan Dangerfield is presumably the fifth and final player in that group and one can easily speculate that he was kept because fellow safety Shamarko Thomas is currently dealing with a groin injury. We should find out what Thomas’ status is for the regular season opener later on in the day when head coach Mike Tomlin addresses the media. In other words, Dangerfield could potentially wind up being a player who can be shuffled back and forth to the team’s practice squad in the coming weeks should other injuries occur and the need for another player to be added to the 53-man roster arises.
Dangerfield, however, isn’t the only player currently on the 53-man roster who could potentially be bounced to the team’s practice squad. While backup linebackers L.J. Fort and Tyler Matakevich both made the Steelers final 53 this year, like Dangerfield, neither is above being bounced to the practice squad. It will be interesting to see if both players wind up dressing for Monday night’s regular season opener against the Washington Redskins. There’s a good chance one of them won’t and as I sit here on this Tuesday, my money is on the rookie Matakevich not getting a helmet for that game. Should that wind up being the case, it will clearly let us know that he is at the very bottom of the six-player inside linebacker depth chart and thus susceptible to being bounced in the future should the need arise due to more injuries.
The Steelers also decided to keep 9 total offensive linemen on their initial 53-man roster and being as they’ll only likely dress 7 or 8 of them every game, that means that one of the reserves is likely to be an option to be bounced should the need ever arise. One would think that B.J. Finney is currently at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to that position group and thus he is probably a candidate to be jettisoned to the practice squad should extra roster spots be needed due to forthcoming injuries.
If I had to rank the three players that I listed above as it relates to roster security from least secure to most, it would go Dangerfield, Matakevich, Fort and then Finney. For the sake of all of us, we hope that no roster manipulation is needed as that would mean the team is generally healthy as a whole. With that said, you can almost guarantee that today’s 53-man roster will change as the season progresses as injuries, both minor and serious, are sure to occur.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that once running back Le’Veon Bell is able to return in Week 4 that either Fitzgerald Toussaint or Daryl Richardson are likely to be sent packing to make room for him. On top of that, once outside linebacker Bud Dupree is ready to come off the team’s Reserve/Injured list, which we hope will be midway through the season, one player on the team’s 53-man roster will have to cut in order to make room for him as well.