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: Will Christian Scotland-Williamson’s exemption hurt his chances of making the 53-man roster?
Head Coach Mike Tomlin made a potentially surprising comment recently regarding first-year tight end Christian Scotland-Williamson, an English rugby player who has been a part of the Steelers for the past year and a half as part of the International Pathway Program, an initiative to try to help foreign-born players make it in the NFL.
Essentially, the gist is that they can be rostered in the offseason on the 90-man roster or during the regular season on the practice squad without counting against the respective units. They carried him in the offseason both last year and this year as the 91st player, and he was the 11th member of the practice squad a season ago.
Tomlin recently praised his progress and suggested that he has a legitimate chance of making the 53-man roster. But would the fact that he could be carried on the practice squad without penalty hurt his chances of actually doing so?
If he’s not clearly, far and away the third-best tight end on the team, and/or if he’s not a significant contributor on special teams, might the Steelers decide that they would rather have Zach Gentry or Kevin Rader on the 53-man roster with Scotland-Williamson as the practice squad tight end?
Doing so would leave open an additional spot on the practice squad than if one of the others were to be kept there, so this is just one factor that the team will have to take into consideration several weeks from now when they get set to cut 37 (or 38) players.