I think we all have been following football long enough to know that the initial 53-man roster is not the same 53 players that are going to go into the season opener. There’s virtually always some minor alteration here and there, and the Pittsburgh Steelers reportedly already intend to make some moves.
One of them is to move some player to injured reserve as early as today, though it doesn’t necessarily have to be today. The assumption has been that it will be safety Morgan Burnett, since the team kept five safeties and reportedly intends to re-sign the released veteran, Nat Berhe.
The team likes to tinker with the bottom of the roster, however, and there is the inevitable activation of Le’Veon Bell to consider. Just last season, they made the trade to acquire J.J. Wilcox on the Monday before the season opener. So with that said, these are the players that I believe can least afford to get comfortable right now:
RB Stevan Ridley: But this could just as easily be Jaylen Samuels. It’s possible that they want to carry four running backs into the season, but after they made the decision to carry nine offensive linemen, I’m guessing that they won’t be the case. One of Ridley or Samuels is probably the safest best to not be on the roster come September 9.
Zach Banner: While he has made the roster for now, he shouldn’t get comfortable. His retention could simply mean that they want to carry nine linemen. They could bring in a veteran tackle like Austin Howard, who was released yesterday.
Jordan Dangerfield: It’s not like he hasn’t been here before. Dangerfield is technically only a second-year player but has seemingly been with the team for as long as I have been writing for Steelers Depot. He knows as well as anybody how vulnerable his employment status can be.
Marcus Allen: The same goes for the rookie safety. While I’m sure they’d like to keep him, he will definitely be one of the lowest men on the totem pole should they need a roster spot for something else. Now that the first wave of cuts are over, the team might feel better about sliding him onto the practice squad.
L.J. Fort: I’m including only Fort among the inside linebackers, as he is the more expendable of the two between himself and Tyler Matakevich in terms of special teams contributions. With Matthew Thomas likely to pass him on the depth chart, he likely is sitting at about 51 or 52 in terms of priority on the roster.
Anthony Chickillo: If the Steelers do make a move at outside linebacker to pick somebody up, such as John Simon, that could cost Chickillo. I think Olasunkanmi Adeniyi is safer because they are at different stages of their careers. Adeniyi worked extensively on special teams during the preseason.
Justin Hunter: He’s going to be a healthy scratch anyway since he doesn’t contribute on special teams. Hunter could lose his roster spot even if the player brought in is at a different position.