Saturday, August 25, 2007

Trimming to 53

With just a few more days remaining before NFL teams must trim their rosters – to 75 on Aug. 28 and 53 by Sept. 1 – the Pittsburgh Steelers have a pretty good idea of who is going to be with them when they open the season at Cleveland Sept. 9.

But there are still some decisions to be made.

Here’s the way I feel the 53-man roster will shake out:

Quarterbacks (3): Ben Roethlisberger and Charlie Batch are locks. Brian St. Pierre has played well enough this preseason to be close to one as well. Only a bad performance against Philadelphia could ruin that.

Running backs (5): Willie Parker, Najeh Davenport and yes, Carey Davis are locks. Gary Russell is close to one. He’s the second-best pure runner on this roster behind Parker. That will leave the coaching staff deciding between Verron Haynes and fullback Dan Kreider. Haynes will be the team’s third-down back, leaving Kreider on the outside looking in. Davis will handle the lead-blocking duties.

Wide receivers (5): Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes and Cedrick Wilson are locks. Willie Reid likely is as well, even though he hasn’t shown much as a return man this preseason. That leaves Nate Washington fighting with Walter Young for the final spot. Washington’s speed gives him the edge over Young’s size.

Tight end (3): One of the few no-brainers as Heath Miller, Jerame Tuman and Matt Spaeth get the nod here.

Offensive line (10): Starters Marvel Smith, Alan Faneca, Sean Mahan, Kendall Simmons and Willie Colon – yes, I believe Colon will be the opening day starter – are joined by Max Starks, Chris Kemoeatu, Marvin Philip, Trai Essex and Jason Capizzi. Chukky Okobi gets the call from the Turk. Essex has been OK at guard, but mistake-prone at tackle. But he’s worth keeping around another year. Capizzi is on the bubble, but I don’t think the Steelers will be able to get him onto the practice squad.

Defensive line (7): Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel and Chris Hoke are locks. Travis Kirschke and his troublesome back likely are as well. Nick Eason and Ryan McBean will get the final two spots. McBean has promise and will get a year to learn the system and beef up a little. Shaun Nua, we hardly knew ya.

Linebackers (8): Clark Haggans, James Harrison, Larry Foote, James Farrior, Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley and Clint Kreiwaldt are locks. That leaves one spot open and Arnold Harrison wins it. It leaves the team thin at inside linebacker, but Timmons could be groomed to play inside in a pinch and Arnold Harrison has played inside a bit. Woodley will continue to be groomed as a pass rusher.

Defensive backs (9): Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Deshea Townsend and Ike Taylor will be the starters. They will be backed up by Bryant McFadden, Anthony Smith, William Gay, Ricardo Colclough and Tyrone Carter. Chidi Iwuoma doesn’t make the cut despite being a captain during the preseason. Mike Tomlin could surprise here, however, and release Tyrone Carter instead. You don’t think Towsend has been working at free safety for his health, do you?

Specialists (3): Jeff Reed, Daniel Sepulveda and Greg Warren. Enough said.

6 comments:

Tomczak Dynasty said...

Whats wrong with Okobi? I thought he was solid from what Ive seen, and looks to be our 2nd best center.

Walter Young seems leaps and bounds better than Washington, you may be right on speed, but Young looks like glue out there...where was he Vs. WASH?

Cut Kreider? Thats crazy man. Haynes has spent 1/2 of his career (3 of 6 years) on IR on the team.

datruth4life said...

Dale, I pretty much agree with your roster. A few thoughts, though:

-If the Steelers don't want to lose Capizzi or Russell, they better put both on the final squad. If we keep the six rookies from the draft (Timmons, Woodley, Spaeth, McBean, Sepulvada, Gay) and then add Capizzi and Russell to that rookie class, that could end up being the best rookie class for the Steelers under Kevin Colbert. And remember everyone, you heard it here first. But that is only if they keep Russell and Capizzi.

-The Steelers nation will be jumping off the nearest bridge if Kreider is cut, but if Davis and Hayes are better fits for Arians' offense, then so be it. Big Ben really seems to have a comfort level with Haynes as the 3rd-down back.

-I am very interested to see what Timmons does the next two games. The past game, he looked really natural in coverage, especially the times he was split out wide and played head up on a wide receiver. I still want to see if he can come off of the corner and hold the point of attack. Woodley has done both of things pretty well so far.

-Is it just me, or would you guys like to see some more of the Steelers rushing 4 guys and having those guys beat someone on individual matchups instead of trying to blitz every passing down. Sooner or later, these OLBs are going to have to win some one-on-one matchups and get to the quarterback.

-Chidi vs. Coclough will determine ninth DB spot. Coclough has played well, but Gay has beat him out for that 4th cornerback spot. I think Chidi's special teams play will give him the edge.

-If Capizzi is the first left tackle used after Marvel Smith leaves the game tonight, then that will give us a good indication of how serious they are about him making the final squad.

-I wonder how long it will take before Woodley takes Haggans' job. And while we are at it, James Harrison needs to show something coming off the corner this week. This defense needs production from the OLB spot to be a top 5 defense again. One good thought: I think this team will lead the league in rushing defense this year.

-I would like to see Walter Young given some opportunities, especially on a few fade routes the next couple of games. Boy, they could really use his hands and size over the middle and in the red zone.

If it comes down between Young and Capizzi, I keep Capizzi. I think Young will be there as a free agent during the season if you need him.

-I like the way that Tomlin hasn't just given people jobs and is making them compete for spots down to the end. If Cowher was here, Starks would be starting at right tackle and be the no. 1 backup at LT, Coclough would be on returns and still getting a free pass and Joey Porter would be with the steelers but also missing time with another knee injury and surgery. I think the Rooneys knew they needed to make some changes if they wanted to get back on the level of the Ravens. In case anyone has forgotten, the Steelers were dominated by the Ravens this past year and I don't think they have closed the gap that much up to this point.

-With 2 games in 5 days, we'll soon see who will be the 2007 Steelers. I wouldn't be upset if Tomlin just kept Dale's squad. We'll see.

adamg said...

There's no way Marvin Phillip makes the team especially in light of Tomlin's remark that he told Phillip to step it up. That's not something a coach that's sold on a player says. Further, Tomlim called Okobi one of his "eight starters".
Okobi is the only true C on the roster.

Chidi will make the team and Gay will be signed to the practice squad. The big hit on Meachem does not erase his pedestrian play for the lion's share of time he's played in the preseason.

You're probably right about Kriewaldt, which is a shame because he always looks good in preseason, but when he gets in a game that counts, he's exposed as slow and overmatched. Despite his tag as a "special teams ace", his name is rarely called on a tackle.

Spaeth has done NOTHING to rate making the team. Lucky for him Tuman is hurt and hasn't played or even practiced much so far. I won't be surprised if Tuman lands on IR to start the season to give the team more time to decide on a couple of hard choices. Arians can live without 3 TEs.

I would also not be surprised if Max Starks is cut. The only bad thing is that a rival like Cleveland might snap him up which could come back to haunt us.

McBean is another player who hasn't shown anything. The Steelers would be much better off keeping Scott Paxson, who could play either NT or DE in a pinch. Paxson doesn't get much notice, but he can play, he's very quick and surprisingly strong and sturdy given his diabetes (he played almost every down his last 2 years at PSU). McBean is a practice squad player and a project this year.

As for Capizzi, he will be waived, but I think if another team claims him, he'll be pulled back and kept on the 53. The same will happen if he's on the practice squad and another team tries to sign him.

datruth4life said...

Adamg,

-If Capizzi is cut, then he is free to be claimed by any team out there. There is no the Steelers can cut him, then say, "Oooppss!," we want him back. That's why they need to keep him on the regular roster.

-Who would you keep as an inside linebacker in place of Kriewaldt? Rian Wallace is non-existent when he gets on the field and does nothing on special teams. I like Koonce, but he will be on the practice squad. Arnold Harrison will make the team along with Kriewaldt as inside linebackers. I know, I know, A. Harrison is an OLB, but the team doesn't want to tell you that Timmons will eventually play ILB and take Farrior's spot.

-I agree McBean hasn't shown anything, but it doesn't hurt to give him or Capizzi a redshirt year. That is what the team usually does for its lineman.

-I just saw Ben throw that bone-headed interception on the Steelers first drive. If he doesn't learn from this past year, then it doesn't matter who is on the final 53. This team is sunk. Get all the dumb plays out in the preseason, Ben. What a dumb interception!

-Scott Paxson couldn't even beat the tight end in blocking drills. I am not impressed. Derrick Jones and another defensive lineman that they pick up will be on the practice squad.

-You said Gay hasn't done anything. Have you been watching the same games as everybodyelse? Gay has two interceptions, the biggest hit in the preseason and has been in position every time some has tried to go deep on him when he's been in the game. He's probably played the best of all of our cornerbacks. If Chidi stays, then Coclough will be cut. Gay has this team made.

adamg said...

First, what I said was the Steelers will try and put Capizzi on the practice squad, but the first cut is recallable waivers. IMO, they might run him through those and see if anyone tries to claim him. If so, they will recall his name and know they have to keep him on the final 53.

Second, I'd keep Wallace. He has much more upside than Kriewaldt. If you're ever at game, put the glasses on Kriewaldt. He's simply not an NFL caliber player - John Fiala with a bit more size. Did you watch him on STs last year? A complete non-factor. I think the only reason he's even still with the team is because Colbert has a fondness for ex-Lions.

On Gay, did you hear Tomlin's comments? He said Gay had a lot to learn. Gay ran with the 3rd and 4th units last night. That tells you all you need to know. You get all excited over a couple of hits, but Gay has been pretty regularly beaten the last couple of games.

On Paxson, he's quietly solid, just like Aaron Smith. He anchored the DL at Penn St and rarely missed a down. The Steeler 3-4 does not take advantage of his speed and quickness, instead asking the NT to hold and maintain the middle. Personally, I think Paxson is more suited to DE in the Steeler scheme. At 6'5" and 295, he's almost the same size as Aaron Smith. I suspect if they used him there, he'd be better than either McBean or Jones.
Then again, the Steelers didn't think another similarly-sized DT named Vrable couldn't play either.

Dale Lolley said...

The only thing that bothers me about Paxson playing DE is he has incredibly short arms. That's fine working inside at NT, but out on the edge, that's a detriment. They haven't used him out there at all.