A little more information this time around, the Pittsburgh Steelers wrapping up all 15 practices and concluding their first preseason game a week ago. Still plenty of time left for things to change but here’s my current guess at the roster and practice squad.
Quarterbacks (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Mason Rudolph
Analysis: Feel more and more confident this will be the group and the order. Josh Dobbs simply hasn’t done enough to justify keeping him over Jones on the 53.
Running Backs (4) – Le’Veon Bell, James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Stevan Ridley
Analysis: You could argue Fitzgerald Toussaint and like I said on the final camp podcast, it’s an issue of valuation. Ridley clearly the better runner, Toussaint clearly the better special teamer (and the team doesn’t seem to be interested in giving Ridley any KR work). I’m sticking with Ridley for now but it’s actually one of the tougher questions I’m debating right now.
Fullbacks (1) – Roosevelt Nix
Analysis: Because of course Nix is going to make it.
Wide Receivers (5) – Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Justin Hunter
Analysis: I’m not going to make any changes here…yet. Still expect Eli Rogers to begin the year on PUP. Feel Marcus Tucker has a better shot than Damoun Patterson on the 53 but if you can get both/either on the practice squad, I can see this team sticking with Hunter, who they like, for better or worse.
Tight Ends (3) – Vance McDonald, Jesse James, Xavier Grimble
Analysis: Certainly no one else on the roster will push for a roster spot. Now you just hope for good news for McDonald and Grimble on the health front.
Offensive Linemen (8) – Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert, Alejandro Villanueva, B.J. Finney, Matt Feiler, Chukwuma Okorafor
Analysis: Pretty confident these are the eight and it’s only eight, unless they go outside the organization. Enough versatility in the backups. Finney can play any interior spot, Feiler can play either guard and right tackle (maybe center too), and Okorafor either tackle spot. That’s enough to deal with any injury.
Defensive Linemen (6) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Tyson Alualu, L.T. Walton, Daniel McCullers
Analysis: I’m not sure how much of a debate there is at this point. Joshua Frazier feels like a guy ticketed for the practice squad unless he really turns heads in the near future. No one else is making a push. McCullers has sincerely improved.
Inside Linebackers (5) – Jon Bostic, Vince Williams, Tyler Matakevich, Matthew Thomas, L.J. Fort
Analysis: Thomas has enough intrigue with his athleticism and the Steelers seem interested in his pass rush ability. He might not be active right away but a good stash candidate to give them some quality depth.
Outside Linebackers (5) – Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt, Anthony Chickillo, Keion Adams, Ola Adeniyi
Analysis: Adeniyi sticks around after a strong performance against the Eagles. Let’s hope he keeps it up.
Cornerbacks (6) – Artie Burns, Joe Haden, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, Brian Allen, Coty Sensabaugh
Analysis: My one change to my 53 man roster. I think the Steelers will subscribe to the idea of “you can’t have too many quality corners” and Sensabaugh looks more comfortable his second year as a Steeler. Some of the injury issues at safety makes this an easier decision, too.
Safeties (4) – Morgan Burnett, Sean Davis, Nat Berhe, Terrell Edmunds
Analysis: Marcus Allen needs to get healthy. I’m just speculating here but I have a funny feeling this is one of those eventual IR decisions, a la Keion Adams last year. I like Matthew Marczi’s idea of Jordan Dangerfield but don’t love it enough to copy it. Can’t keep 11 DBs and 10 LBs…numbers just don’t work out.
Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell
Analysis: Slam dunk.
Punter (1) – Jordan Berry
Long Snapper (1) – Kameron Canaday
Analysis: Steph Curry 3 pointer.
Gameday Inactives (7)
RB: Stevan Ridley
WR: Justin Hunter
OL: Matt Feiler
DL: Daniel McCullers
OLB: Ola Adeniyi
CB: Coty Sensabaugh
ILB: Matthew Thomas
Practice Squad (11)
QB: Josh Dobbs
WR: Marcus Tucker, Damoun Patterson
TE: Christian Scotland-Williamson
OL: R.J. Prince, Jake Rodgers
DL: Joshua Frazier
OLB: Farrington Huguenin
ILB: Keith Kelsey
CB: Dashaun Phillips
S: Marcus Allen
Analysis: Dobbs sticks around like I’ve written about before. Patterson definitely making at least the practice squad and Tucker lands here again, assuming he’s still eligible. Mixing up the OL a little bit with R.J. Prince, who Mike Munchak talked about. Like his size and feet with some guard/tackle versatility. Frazier and Allen are easy practice squad decisions though Malik Golden becomes a hard-luck loser as the odd man out. Could argue keeping him over Phillips.