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Monday, August 22, 2011

Looking at 53

With two preseason games now in hand and training camp over, it's time to start thinking about how the Steelers' roster will shake down.

Here's how I see it right now:

QB (3) - Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich, Dennis Dixon. I'm keeping Dixon over Charlie Batch because if you cut Dixon, somebody else will sign him. If Batch is released, he's not likely to sign elsewhere and you can always bring him back if there is a need. Dixon, however, could be trade bait.

RB (4) - Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Mewelde Moore, Jonathan Dwyer. Dwyer makes the roster after the injury to Barron Batch. The Steelers could keep an eye on the waiver wire here to see if somebody of value gets cut free.

OL (10) - Willie Colon, Maurkice Pouncey, Chris Kemoeatu, Jonathan Scott, Doug Legursky, Tony Hills, Chris Scott, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert and Keith Williams. The Steelers could go with nine here and try to sneak Williams onto the practice squad. Or they could keep a guy like Kyle Jolly on the active roster. But things are pretty cut and dried, barring an injury.

WR (5) - Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and Jerricho Cotchery. Arnaz Battle could be kept around, but something tells me they'll need an extra roster spot for defensive backs. Plus, with the new kickoff rule in place, special teams isn't as important as it was before.

TE (3) - Heath Miller, David Johnson, Wesyle Saunders. Veteran John Gilmore has shown little. Saunders really hasn't, either, but he's got the potential to get better. This will be a position where the Steelers will be watching the waiver wire for help.

DL (6) - Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood, Cameron Heyward, Chris Hoke. Corbin Bryant is a guy pushing here. It's possible that he's shown enough that if the Steelers try to sneak him onto the practice squad, one of the other 3-4 teams in the league will snatch him up. But because they almost have to keep 10 defensive backs, you have to find a roster spot somewhere.

LB (9) - James Harrison, James Farrior, Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley, Chris Carter, Jason Worilds, Larry Foote, Stevenson Sylvester, Morty Ivy. Ivy gets a roster spot as a special teams ace.

DB (10) - Ike Taylor, Bryant McFadden, William Gay, Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Will Allen, Ryan Mundy, Keenan Lewis, Curtis Brown, Donovan Warren. This is a tough decision with Warren getting a roster spot over Cortez Allen, who has practiced too little to be of any help, and safety Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith. It wouldn't be a surprise to see a veteran cut loose here - Gay or even McFadden - to open a spot for a younger player. This is easily the toughest position on the team to cut because many of the players are so similar and health has been an issue throughout training camp.

Specialists (3) - Greg Warren, Daniel Sepulveda, Shaun Suisham.

© In other news Monday, the Steelers signed veteran offensive lineman Trai Essex. That's likely a response to both Jonathan Scott and Marcus Gilbert getting hurt last week against Philadelphia.

The team now lists Tony Hills as No. 1 at RG, so if they want to get him some snaps there, they need somebody with some experience to line up at LT.


Anonymous said...

Hills was released? Kind of a shocker isn't it? He had some position flexibility.

Anonymous said...

Which Hills are you talking about? Tony Hills, the one on Dale's list (between Legursky and Scott)?

Dale Lolley said...

Tony Hills is now listed at No. 1 at RG on the team's depth chart

datruth4life said...

No, Scott Brown of the Tribune Review tweeted that Tony Hills was the starting RG on the depth chart 'released' by the Steelers today. I had to reread that two or three times myself to make sure that he wasn't saying Hills was released. Also, Ken Laird said Trai Essex was on the South Side today, so I wonder if there is anything with that.

Dale, would you consider putting LB Morty Ivy on the practice squad and keeping K Swayze Waters as a kickoff specialist? If you got a guy that can kick it out of the endzone during every kickoff, isn't that more valuable than a 9th LB anyways?

The only other change I'd make is to keep Crezdon Butler over William Gay. With K. Lewis playing so well, then that means that Gay doesn't have to be the starter by default if Ike or McFadden goes down. And with the way K. Lewis is playing right now, would you start him at CB over Bryant McFadden, who hasn't played in the preseason yet?

Donovan Warren or Crezdon Butler can play that inside nickel spot, making William Gay obsoleter. And I would find a way to keep both CB rookies. I wouldn't give up on Cortez Allen because he has a pulled hamstring. Thoughts?

Gimp said...

So sad that special teams kickoff returns are the NFLs "special" joke. I really wish Battle would stay around at WR... kind of think this will be the season Ward breaks himself for an extended period of time... ):

Eric T said...

Essex just got signed. Who does he bump off the 53 man roster?

Dale Lolley said...

I don't see Essex making the 53 unless he beats out Ramon Foster. I think that was more of a concession to being down two LTs.

I've toyed around with the idea of keeing Waters around to kick off, but that's not Tomlin-like.

I'd like to see more of Butler on the field before I cut Gay over him.

Robert k said...

No way is McFadden getting cut and I doubt they try to put Allen on the ps either, both make the roster IMHO

Patrick said...

what was Gay's contract? I know it was for a year but what are the cap implications if hes cut? I'd assume not much but I never saw the #.

Are any of the young DB's a possibility for IR?

adamg said...

I think Essex will bump Keith Williams to the PS and be one of the 9 OL.

I expect Cortez Allen to end up on IR. I could see Warren beating out Gay, but not McFadden.

The DL is getting old. I'd keep Bryant or one of the other NTs over Ivy.

Anonymous said...

Cut Gay

datruth4life said...


I agree that keeping 2 kickers isn't 'Tomlin-like', but this is also the first time that teams can kickoff from the 30. Just think, what a weapon that Waters can add if he can make every time after a kickoff have to start from their 20 yard-line. That makes this D that much better and helps you in the field position battle. Suisham doesn't have the leg to do that. It's a specialty that could help you win games.

Tim said...

Morty Ivy has really impressed me in the first two preseason games. I'm glad he at least has a shot.


A lot of fans are pulling for Stevenson Sylvester to be the one who takes over for Farrior, whenever that is. Do you think the coaches think he can do it? Do they have any confidence that he could be the successor?

Steve-O said...


I like your roster but I think the X-Factor is going to be the waiver wire. A solid OL or DB could cause the Steelers to adjust and the ripple effect would be interesting. I think too often we fans get too caught up in "potential" and hope to hang on to a player that never really pans out, a la Sonny Harris. Rarely do they ever turn into that all pro player so I think the damage is minimal. I'm hoping for some waiver wire action to put the final pieces together. I hope we can hang on to Cortez Allen and Keith Williams but if we can get better on the Starting Offensive line/Defensive Backfield then I'm all for putting them on the rookies on the Practice Squad.

As far as Dennis Dixon goes, I had projected the Raiders as a possible landing spot but their acuisition of Terrel Pryor put that to rest. Are there any suitors that you can see giving up a high draft pick for him (Miami?)?

Dale Lolley said...

Oh, I agree that they will be watching the waiver wire closely for help at TE and possibly RB. But TE for sure.

As far as Farrior's replacement, he's already starting - Timmons.
They will eventually slide Timmons over and put Sylvester in Timmons' old slot, which is more just attacking the ball and less coverage.

Robert k said...

Steelers Resign Timmons for 5 years 50 mil.

The idiots wrote Simmons for the title of the article though, I thought Kendall Simmons was back for a sec.

Anonymous said...

no team in the NFL will be carrying 2 kickers


marc said...

it wouldn't be the first time a nfl team has used a kickoff specialist.....idiot.

with that said, i am all for removing uncertainty in the kickoff coverage phase of the game. if that means giving a roster spot to a kicker and have the other team start on the 20 95% of the time, i'm all for it.

Anonymous said...

marc - now that they moved the kickoffs up 5 yards, every kicker in the league can kick into the endzone. yes, a few teams used to carry 2 kickers but now I dont think any will

even Suisham can kick to the back of the endzone

carry 2 kickers is a dumb idea as it will take a roster spot away from a young talent, probably one of our young corners

Patrick said...

we should carry 2 punters

one who can punt long and one who can specialize in punting inside the 20

also maybe carry 2 long-snappers in case the starter gets hurt. we all remember that game when Greg Loyd had to long snap and put it into the bleachers and we lost

marc said...

suisham cannot consistently kick into the back of the endzone, let alone thru the endzone.

consider that suisham had 54 kickoffs with the steelers last year and only 9 went into the endzone. now, i will acknowledge the cold weather games and the fact tomlin likes to boot it short sometimes, but he isn't consistently deep.

every year it seems there are one or two players on the roster who are solely there as special teams aces. why not make one of those spots a kicker with a big leg to boot the ball out of the endzone every time and not even worry about the return?

it seems the benefits are too great to pass up.

Anonymous said...

The Steelers should carry 2 fake Patricks, because one isn't sufficiently annoying.

BoJangles said...

Marc you don't do it because those players also could be counted on to play. Madison was a ST demon but we also saw him in packages last season. Fox was a special teams ace but could also play in the base D. What can our "kickoff specialist" do, other than kicking?

marc said...

btw, i hate the fact they moved the kickoff's up. the return game was one of the more exciting facets of football and was integral to the outcome of games going down to the wire.

for example, imagine the steelers drive down and hit a fied goal with 2:30 left on the clock to take a 3 point lead. the other team would be gearing up for a good return and steeler's fans would be holding their breath.

now, boom it thru the endzone and good luck starting on your own twenty. imagine that same situation in reverse. i think it just sucks and takes away from the game.

marc said...

drop ivy or gay to make room for the kickoff specialist. neither would be missed.

James said...

I think the NFL teams are expanding to 54 man teams this year, so that way we could keep at least 1 mone player. And, while i cannot stand Gay he at least brings experience to a team that has the potential to win it all this year.

Dale Lolley said...

They expanded the game day active roster from 45 to 46, not the 53-man roster.

Tim said...

I'm glad they think Sylvester's up for it.