The Pittsburgh Steelers are now in Latrobe at Saint Vincent College, where they have held their training camp sessions since 1966. While the vast majority of the legwork of building the 90-man roster is done, there is always some fine tinkering to do. Now it’s time to figure out who is worthy of a roster spot, and what their role will be.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they’re bound to have new starters.
How will those position groups sort themselves out? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in practice? Who is sitting out due to injury?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Did Johnny Holton do enough to push his way onto the 53-man roster, and at whose expense?
You know the score by now. The final preseason game is the last-minute auditions for spots on the 53-man roster. While those far outside the bubble aren’t going to make it, those on the cusp can push themselves over the edge with a strong performance.
One such player who put in that big showing was third-year veteran wide receiver Johnny Holton, who at the very least probably secured himself a spot on the practice squad. He caught three passes in total, going for 88 yards, including a 44-yard reception (his second of 40 or more yards) and a 31-yard touchdown at the end of the first half from Mason Rudolph.
He was really the only wide receiver during the game to do much of anything of note, the offense looking very sluggish for the most part outside of the six-plus minutes that Rudolph played. He was the only player on the team with more than 23 receiving yards out of the 13 players who caught a pass.
His direct competitors, Ryan Switzer and Eli Rogers, combined for three receptions totaling 20 yards, each with 10 yards and Switzer having two reception of five yards each.
Will Holton manage to take a roster spot away from one of them, and if so, which one? Holton has return capabilities, but he hasn’t done much in that department in the preseason. He does contribute elsewhere on special teams, which would still give him the window to dress, and he has proven that his deep speed is legitimate.