My final outlook on the Pittsburgh Steelers 53 man roster and practice squad. Unfortunately, been a little muddied up by some of the injuries suffered Thursday night. But here’s my best crack at it.
Quarterbacks (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Mason Rudolph
Analysis: I know Josh Dobbs is the hot topic after a legitimately great finale but it’s not enough to move the needle. There’s simply more trust in Jones to come off the bench than there is in Dobbs. Beating up the Panthers C team isn’t enough. Dobbs likely gets dealt for a 7th round pick. As I’ve said before, keep an eye on the AFC West. Lot of fits.
Running Backs (3) – Le’Veon Bell, James Conner, Jaylen Samuels
Analysis: Again, leaving things the same. Potential to keep a guy like Fitzgerald Toussaint around as the 54th man, roster exemption for Bell. The fact Samuels played so little in the finale, while not a guarantee, tells me the Steelers have seen what they needed to see. He’s going to offer more on offense than Toussaint.
Fullbacks (1) – Roosevelt Nix
Analysis: Spot was never in doubt.
Wide Receivers (6) – Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Ryan Switzer, Justin Hunter
Analysis: Marcus Tucker (ankle) didn’t play, Damoun Patterson left with turf toe, and I don’t think anything that would have happened tonight would’ve changed things anyway. Hunter has seemed to lock up his roster spot, whether you like it or not. Team loves the big play potential.
Tight Ends (3) – Vance McDonald, Jesse James, Xavier Grimble
Analysis: As I’ve said before, could get some movement here if there isn’t enough faith in McDonald and Grimble’s health. Although Bucky Hodges had a nice game against Carolina, he’s not in position to make the 53.
Offensive Linemen (8) – Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert, Alejandro Villanueva, B.J. Finney, Matt Feiler, Chukwuma Okorafor
Analysis: No changes here unless they bring in an outsider. But can’t see anyone internally elevated to the 53. Some good practice squad candidates but no one worth carrying here.
Defensive Linemen (6) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Tyson Alualu, L.T. Walton, Daniel McCullers
Analysis: Nothing changing here either. Good to see Daniel McCullers back out there. I like Lavon Hooks. Just no room for him here.
Inside Linebackers (5) – Jon Bostic, Vince Williams, Tyler Matakevich, Matthew Thomas, L.J. Fort
Analysis: This is where it gets tough. Putting Fort back on as one final change. It’s questionable if he’ll even get a hat right now, Matthew Thomas will certainly be active, but Fort is a worthy special teamer and it’s a position that still needs. More competition, the better for this group, far as I’m concerned.
Outside Linebackers (5) – Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt, Anthony Chickillo, Keion Adams, Ola Adeniyi
Analysis: Adeniyi’s hamstring injury makes this situation tough to figure out coming right off the game. But even if it’s a week or two issue, he can be inactive early on in the season. He was going to be either way on my list.
Cornerbacks (6) – Artie Burns, Joe Haden, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Brian Allen, Coty Sensabaugh
Analysis: Sticking with Sensabaugh here. Though he hasn’t played much in the slot, he’s still capable of it, and that’s valuable given Mike Hilton’s injury and if Sutton ends up playing outside at some point this season.
Safeties (4) – Morgan Burnett, Sean Davis, Nat Berhe, Terrell Edmunds
Analysis: Another difficult call with Marcus Allen, who played and played well in the finale. But for now, I think he’s a practice squad candidate and call-up whenever injury strikes in the secondary.
Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell
Analysis: Signed, sealed, delivered.
Punter (1) – Jordan Berry
Analysis: Matt Wile has become pretty popular around here. But I’ll take Berry’s directional punting over Wile’s leg. With the way this offense moves, it’s more important.
Long Snapper (1) – Kameron Canaday
Analysis: We’re not talking about him. That’s a great thing.
Gameday Inactives (8)
QB: Mason Rudolph
WR: Justin Hunter
OL: Matt Feiler
DL: Daniel McCullers
LB: L.J. Fort
OLB: Keion Adams, Ola Adeniyi
CB: Coty Sensabaugh
Practice Squad (11)
RB: Jarvion Franklin
WR: Marcus Tucker, Damoun Patterson
TE: Bukcy Hodges, Christian Scotland-Williamson
OL: R.J. Prince, Zach Banner
DL: Lavon Hooks
OLB: Farrington Huguenin
S: Jordan Dangerfield, Marcus Allen
Analysis: Several changes where again, some of the injuries make this more difficult. Keith Kelsey and Malik Golden’s injuries take them off these lists with Golden almost certainly winding up on IR. Dangerfield still has eligibility left.
At this point, I don’t see Dobbs clearing waivers and the Steelers trading him. So not even humoring myself by adding him on here. Franklin was the only option left at RB but like I wrote before, I’d find someone else. Bummed Patrick Morris didn’t play so I swap him back in for Prince. Watch out for Chris Schleuger though.
Open spots allow me to keep Hodges, who made a couple impressive plays against Carolina. Even if McDonald/Grimble are ready for Cleveland, they could miss practice time over these next 10 days. So for now, Hodges sticks.
Hooks has earned his keep. Huguenin rounds out depth at OLB, especially if Adeniyi is going to miss some time.