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.