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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Watching the bubble

As the Steelers head into their final preseason game, there are plenty of roster spots yet to be won. There are also a number of veterans who find themselves on the bubble with this team, a testament to how deep Pittsburgh is this season.

Here's a look at the veteran bubble guys:

Keiwan Ratliff, CB - Ratliff was brought in as Deshea Townsend insurance and just in case rookies Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett weren't ready to contribute. None of those things have happened. It may come down to keeping Ratliff, Ryan Mundy and/or Anthony Madison. Madison is a stellar special teams player.

Travis Kirschke, DL - Kirschke has been a nice find for the Steelers, helping them to a pair of Super Bowl wins. But he's also 34 and has a cranky back. If the Steelers are going to cut a lineman to keep both Ziggy Hood and Sonny Harris, it's likely to be Kirschke, not Nick Eason.

Jeremy Parquet/Jason Capizzi, OT - I know he's a favorite because he's a local guy, but Capizzi is fighting the odds. The team likes Tony Hills' feet better. Darnell Stapleton going on IR helps, though. It could come down to who plays guard better and Parquet has more experience there.

Shaun McDonald, WR - I like what McDonald brings to the table, but the team could decide that if it's going to keep Stefan Logan, it may only need four full-time receivers.

Patrick Bailey, LB - The 2008 team rookie of the year is on the bubble even though he's a very good special teams player. But all of their other backup linebackers – Keyaron Fox, Andre Frazier, Arnold Harrison and Donovan Woods, are solid special teamers as well. The difference is that those other players can actually help out on defense as well. Bailey would be overmatched at this point. He's still better than Bruce Davis, though. This is where Lawrence Timmons' injury could come into play, with the team perhaps keeping an extra linebacker if it feels Timmons may miss the first couple of games.


Captain Cocktail said...

I don't think McDonald clear waivers if put on the practice squad.

Capizzi got the local boy tryout..time to cut him.

Ben said...

If it comes down to Parquet vs Capizzi that's a no brainer. Parquet may have more experience at Guard but he's been pretty dreadful at Tackle. Seems to give away almost as many false start penalties as Willie Colon... maybe if it's a direct replacement they're after... ;)

If they were considering cutting Shaun McDonald I would think the Steelers might have done it on Sept 1st to give him a chance to catch on elsewhere. He clearly should be on an NFL roster somewhere but Sweed has come on and Mike Wallace looks far more ready than anyone hoped. Like Ratliff, McDonald was signed as insurance in case Wallace and Sweed looked lost.

I agree on Eason too, I liked his play a lot last year. Kirschke, after a rough start has turned into a very good 3-4DE and we didn't miss a beat last year when Kiesel was hurt. But you have to figure with Ziggy Hood looking like a contributor, one of Eason or Kirschke might not even dress for games. With the potential cap implications of incentives, Kirschke is the smart cut if they want to keep Harris (which I think they should)

I still think Ratliff should make the roster, but the reason he was signed, as you point out, hasn't happened. Even so, if Burnett can replace Madison's STs play I'd be tempted to keep Ratliff and use either him or DeShea as a backup Safety. Ratliff's looked useful, more useful than any of the Safety reserves unfortunately. I think Safety is going to have to be a draft priority in 2010 along with NT cos I think Casey is as good as gone if they don't extend him this off season.

Patrick said...

I don't think McDonald can even go on the PS.

I think carrying 4 WR's is dangerous. WR's are like RB's. Always with the ball and therefore always being tackled and possibly injured. I would almost garuntee one of our receivers misses a game or two this season.

Of course then you bring in a guy from the PS - but who? Baker, Nance, Williams? None of these guys excite me. I'd rather have McDonald as the 5th behind Holmes, Ward, Sweed, Wallace. That is a very solid 5.

Tim said...

They would be wise to keep Patrick Bailey. How many people would have to be injured before he needed to play OLB anyway?

1. J. Harrison/Woodley
2. Frazier
3. Timmons, because they could slide him to the outside and plug Fox in the middle.
4. Fox, because they could also slide Fox to the outside and plug Woods in the middle if they really needed to. That's not ideal, but it beats playing B. Davis or P. Bailey, if they are really that bad.

That's 3 or 4 injuries that would have to happen at the same time in order for Bailey's defensive ability to be any kind of factor whatsoever. If it comes down to A. Harrison vs. Davis vs. Bailey, go with the one that will actually make a difference in the game: Bailey.

It'll be a bummer if Shaun McDonald gets cut. He could be a #3 receiver on a lot of teams, or even a #2 in some places. For us to have him at #5 or #6 makes us very spoiled at a position where we are supposed to be thin.

Tim said...


I just realized you don't have Tyrone Carter on your bubble list. Is he a lock? I would take Ratliff/Townsend/K. Lewis over Carter.

Dale Lolley said...

Carter seems to be a lock. I don't see it, but apparently, the coaches do.
Plus, he's really the only backup strong safety on the roster - unless you consier Ryan Clark - so he's likely a lock. Mundy hasn't played strong at all.

As for McDonald, no, he can't go on the PS.

Duane said...

I say we keep Ratliff over Burnett. He's been making plays on the ball quite a bit and can play some safety. Burnett is green and I don't think he has much upside. He's slow and undersized for a corner, and we've got Logan to return punts now.

I really think we should keep McDonald. I think he is our best option in the slot of the bench guys. He's got veteran savvy and has displayed sure hands. Unless of course we're going to move Tone or Hines there on 3 receiver sets.

I would hate to lose Bailey. He, along with Frazier and Madison are ST demons. He's a big factor in that regard for us. I'd prefer to have him active on game days and A. Harrison on practice squad, where he could be signed if one of our outside linebackers goes down.

Duane said...

I disagree that Burnett can replace Madison's ST play. He is slower than Madison and will be a step slower getting there and not make the play sometimes. I think it is a mistake to let Madison go. Teams will start to break occasional returns against us without his disruptive influence as a gunner. That could kill us in a big game.

datruth4life said...


I'd keep Ratliff and A. Madison and send R. Mundy and J. Burnett to the practice squad. A player like Madision can help you win games and people just don't appreciate how good and versatile Ratliff is. This guy last year started against the Steelers and played an integral role in the Colts beating the Steelers at home. He's a good football player. I also think Ratliff and Madison will be this team's first-team gunners.

The Steelers can cut Kirschke and save $1.1M against the cap. He'll be around if they need him during the season because no one is going to beat down the door of a 35-year-old tackle with a bad back. Sonny Harris and Ziggy are going to be players.

Capizzi is definitely a keeper over Parquet. Parquet cannot play LT and he was the most penalized lineman during the preseason. T. Hills is all about potential. He's isn't ready to play on Sundays yet, that is why I think Capizzi makes it.

Still think Tank has a shot if he shows something tomorrow. With FWP and Mendy and the way they are likely to miss games, you need that versatile runner on the roster that can come in and contribute as a RB/FB/special teamer.

And only keeping 4 WR's makes no sense. Holmes and Ward have been known to miss games, so having a saavy veteran like S. McDonald is a luxury most teams would like to have. He won't be active on gameday unless someone gets hurt, but he'd be great to keep.

And as for P. Bailey, I'd keep him. He's a demon on special teams, and if you need someone to start, you try any of the other seven or 8 LBs in front of him. His job isn't to be a starter, it's to headhunt on special teams. Bye-Bye Bruce Davis. You had your chance.

Ben said...

you're dead wrong on Kirchke not getting picked up by anyone. He started quite a few games for us last year. With the amount of teams switching over to the 3-4 front, and how many of them do not have anything like the personnel to do it properly, Kirschke would be unemployed less than a day.

other_patrick said...

Kirschke will be snapped up...
Which is why we should trade him and get a draft pick for him.

Ryan McBean starting for Denver...

I'd be stunned if Parquet made the team. Need some OT talent in reserves

Anonymous said...

Kirschke is 35 so at most he'd get the steelers a 7th round pick. But a 7th round pick is a 7th round pick. Sill pretty good. We managed to get a pretty good blocking tight end in the 7th this year after all....

keevin said...

out with the old, in with the new.....cut Kirschke and keep Sonny Harris

They would be crazy to cut McDonald. He would be picked up immediately by the Ravens and would start for them

Mike said...

Does anyone think that Davis might be on the bubble?

With the injury to McHugh, we might keep Johnson. If Johnson can play TE/FB (looks OK in the preseason), wouldn't Davis be on the bubble as a way to keep Logan?

SKINLEY said...

I think we're all looking past special teams. Guys like Madison, Bailey, and C. Davis are all special team machines. Remember the days we couldn't cover kicks? Good way to dig yourself an early hole in a game. Davis has the team made.

Robert said...

I think if you look up the Stats Davis only had a few more special teams tackles than the other guys. The idea that our special teams coverage will fall apart without him is a myth.

I think we can find a way to replace that "monster" production.

If we cut Logan or Harris and keep Carey "negative play" Davis I will flip out.

Patrick said...

I used to dislike Davis on the Roster. But I've softened on that.

For some reason, in many minds Summers has the team made without playing much at all. I don't understand that. Our only other FB is McHugh and theres been whipsers of him being IRed.

So all that combined with the fact that Davis excels on ST, makes me think he is not going anywhere, Summers is going to the PS, Logan is making the team, and the debate will be 3 or 4 RB's, so Redman or not.


Patrick, I think Summers makes it over Redman...and Redman goes to PS.

Vaflyer said...

While I don't think the special teams would fall apart should Davis not be on them, we should not buy into the theory that just because you don't make a tackle on special teams that you didn't have a role in making it succeed. You may have occupied the one blocker who would have taken on the tackler. You may have forced the returner back into the tackle group.

Dale Lolley said...

The thing to keep in mind about Davis is that he's a bright guy who knows how to get everyone lined up correctly, kind of like Ryan Clark.
Believe it or not, not all of these guys are geniuses.
Coaches like guys who know what they're supposed to be doing.

And I disagree with putting Burnett on the PS. The kid can play.

keevin33 said...

It's not just tackles on special teams for Davis. He is also pretty good at blocking on returns (even though he's not that great of a lead-blocker on offense). For example, he made a key block on Santonio's punt return TD in the Chargers game.

I'm not a big fan of Davis but with injuries to Summers and McHugh, I think they keep him.

Burnett is a keeper. He has coverage skills

SFC Lilly said...

DeShea would fit far better as the backup safety vs. Ratliff if it came down to it. Somthing that always seems to work is having a player fill more than one pair of shoes on the field. Pittsburgh is famous for such designs, and what better player to toss into the "false advertising" to the other team than DeShea.

datruth4life said...


Are you ever going to give us your 53-man roster? It is almost Saturday (cut-down day), you know?

Skinley said...

He posted it over on under the forums.