Quarterbacks (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Joshua Dobbs
Analysis: I realize last week I was tempted to put Devlin Hodges on the roster. I’m not going to. The team is obviously content with Dobbs’ skillset, both his strengths and weaknesses. They lived with his short-range accuracy as the backup last year. It’s much more bearable as an inactive. Rudolph is your new number two.
Running Backs (3) – James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell Jr.
Analysis: Trey Edmunds would be a fine number three, but Snell is not going to lose his roster spot to him. He should play in the finale and get a lot of work.
Fullbacks (1) – Roosevelt Nix
Analysis: Wake me up when this is ever worth delving into. Nix is the fullback.
Wide Receivers (6) – JuJu Smith-Schuster, Donte Moncrief, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, Eli Rogers, Ryan Switzer
Analysis: Sorry, Spencerites, but I’m flipping back to Switzer after he spent the entire first half returning. Spencer got the second half and didn’t get to do anything with his opportunities, but he did have another nice long reverse on offense. That’s not enough to make the team, though. He needed to have consistently strong games throughout the preseason. He needs to make plays on offense and return one to the house on Thursday to have a chance.
Tight Ends (3) – Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble, Zach Gentry
Analysis: This group is settled in at this point barring the acquisition of a player outside the 90-man roster. There really isn’t any other option for the number three other than Gentry, and personally speaking, he’s looking alright.
Offensive Linemen (8) – Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, B.J. Finney, Chukwuma Okorafor, Zach Banner
Analysis: I know I’m doing the unthinkable here, but despite the depth and talent the Steelers have at offensive line, I’m going to keep only eight, in this case bumping Fred Johnson down to the practice squad. You’ll see why in a moment (and many of you will be pleased). Johnson’s in-game reps have been solid but not spectacular and he shouldn’t be much of a risk to lose off waivers. Feiler is your emergency number two interior reserve behind Finney, with Okorafor and Banner both able to step up and play right tackle if needed.
Defensive Linemen (6) – Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Tyson Alualu, Daniel McCullers, Isaiah Buggs
Analysis: Outside of long snapper, this has been about the most uncontested group all year. Both McCullers and Buggs have played like they deserve a roster spot, which is great.
Inside Linebackers (5) – Vince Williams, Devin Bush, Mark Barron, Tyler Matakevich, Ulysees Gilbert III
Analysis: The inside linebacker position has really crystalized itself over the past three games, and Gilbert’s special teams play has made it clear that the team believes he’s a keeper.
Outside Linebackers (5) – Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt, Anthony Chickillo, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, Tuzar Skipper
Analysis: Now, don’t get too excited just yet, because this could be temporary. With Adeniyi shelved possibly into the early portions of the regular season and Dupree currently dealing with a thumb injury—Chickillo also a non-participant in the game due to injury—Skipper’s chances of earning a roster spot have increased, but he may be moved once everyone is healthy. Even though he is not playing on special teams (he could really strengthen his position by doing so in the finale), the team sees how he’s playing on defense. Adeniyi wasn’t a big special teams contributor in the preseason when he made it last year, either. But ultimately, it’s a question of bodies.
Cornerbacks (6) – Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton, Artie Burns, Justin Layne, Cameron Sutton
Analysis: It’s fair to say that this group is not changing any time soon. Sutton even earned dime snaps with Kelly over Hilton in the last game, so it’s clear that there’s playing time for at least four of these guys, with Burns a backup and Layne redshirting.
Safeties (4) – Sean Davis, Terrell Edmunds, Marcus Allen, Kameron Kelly
Analysis: I wanted to see Allen get more work on special teams on Sunday, and the fact that he didn’t is concerning. But he forced another fumble (even though it didn’t count), and Jordan Dangerfield is always a phone call away. I could easily be wrong here. Very easily. But it’s partially based on what I expect to see in the finale. That’s how he earned his roster spot last year.
Kicker (1) – Chris Boswell
Analysis: Boswell only needs to not choke for one more game to clinch his job, and a $2 million roster bonus.
Punter (1) – Jordan Berry
Analysis: Both punters did better this week than the week before, but Berry still has the edge. Yet again, he pinned the offense deep and it resulted in another safety. His first punt went for a touchback, but the gunners were down there. They just didn’t play it right.
Long Snapper (1) – Kameron Canaday
Analysis: Canaday is essentially uncontested, so this isn’t really a discussion.
Practice Squad (11)
Trey Edmunds, Tevin Jones, Derwin Gray, Fred Johnson, Christian Scotland-Williamson, Henry Mondeaux, Jordan Dangerfield, P.J. Locke, Robert Spillane, Sutton Smith, Devlin Hodges
I’m still going against the grain with a fourth quarterback. I really don’t think an eighth wide receiver is needed, especially not another retread in Trey Griffey, who has clearly fallen behind the pack. Johnny Holton is a consideration and might make it over P.J. Locke, who has been more quiet of late. With Skipper on the 53, I added Robert Spillane, and Johnson replaces Patrick Morris. I do think two safeties are kept based on their roster a year ago, but Brian Allen could take Locke’s spot as well.