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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

An early look at the 53-man roster

The Steelers still have some time before they have to cut to 53 players. But that doesn't mean we can't have some fun with it. Here's an early look at the roster:

Quarterback (3): Ben Roethlisberger and backup Bruce Gradkowski are givens. The third spot is not. Landry Jones is a fourth-round draft pick, so there's a good chance he gets to go on scholarship for a year ahead of John Parker Wilson, even though Wilson has looked slightly better in training camp.

Running back (5): Le'Veon Bell, Isaac Redman, LaRod Stephens-Howling and fullback Will Johnson are givens, so the final spot will come down to special teams. That gives Baron Batch the edge over Jonathan Dwyer at this point. Dwyer could change that stance, however. Stephens-Howling excelling in the opener as a ball carrier didn't help Dwyer's chances, though.

Wide receiver (5): This will be a tough cut for the team. Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery and rookie Markus Wheaton are givens. I like Justin Brown, J.D. Woods, Derek Moye and Reggie Dunn, but only one will stick on the 53. Make it the sure-handed Brown, but barely.

Tight end (3): Heath Miller, David Paulson and Michael Palmer. Miller should be ready by the end of September at the latest, so the Steelers won't put him on the PUP. Paulson, Palmer and fullback Johnson will hold down the fort until then.

Offensive line (8): Seven are givens including the starters, John Malecki and Kelvin Beachum. Guy Whimper probably makes it as well, though the Steelers will be scanning the waiver wire. Justin Cheadle was headed for the ninth spot, but now, the Steelers might not have a ninth - at least to open the season.

Defensive line (7): Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood, Steve McLendon, Cam Heyward and Al Woods are givens. Alameda Ta'amu and Hebron Fanguopo get the final two spots because Keisel and Hood are entering the final year of their contracts. McLendon could be asked to slide outside next season with Woods, though I expect Keisel to get an extension of at least one year. Brian Arnfelt is a sleeper.

Linebacker (10): This will be one of the toughest cuts. The starters and first-round pick Jarvis Jones are givens. That's five. I also like Chris Carter, Stevenson Sylvester and Marshall McFadden. The final spot goes to Brian Rolle, Terrance Garvin or Adrian Robinson. I'm going with Garvin on the inside, though Rolle helped himself in the preseason opener. Going to keep Vince Williams as well.

Defensive back (9): The starters are Polamalu, Clark, Taylor and Allen. William Gay, Robert Golden, Damon Cromartie-Smith and rookie Shamarko Thomas will also likely make it, which leaves room for a cornerback. I'm going with Curtis Brown edging out young Isaiah Green and Ryan Steed. Brown has been hurt in camp, allowing Green to make a push, but Brown was a solid special teams performer in 2012.

Specialists (3): Shaun Suisham and Greg Warren are locks at plackicker and long snapper. I'm going to give the edge at punter right now to veteran Brian Moorman, whose hang time on kicks is ridiculous, though Drew Butler certainly isn't out of the picture.


Anonymous said...

So you only have the Steelers keeping 4 Cornerbacks?? Where's Josh Victorian in the mix? One other thing, there's no mention of Vince Williams for the LB Spot

Anonymous said...

The Steelers just said there more than likely going to keep Spaeth on the roster

Dale Lolley said...

No, they didn't say they were likely going to keep Spaeth on the active roster. Might go IR with ability to return. Might go on IR. Certainly won't hold spots for two tight ends if Miller can't play for first few games.

Victorian doesn't cut it for me. Too small. Not saying he can't make it. This is just what I see now. Golden can play nickel CB in a pinch, as can Thomas.

Dale Lolley said...

They're just not going to do anything with Spaeth right now because they don't have to. In a few weeks, they'll have to make a decision.

Anonymous said...

Vince Williams and Adrian Robison is a lock. Chris Carter out.

Keep only 6 DLs, Fangupo out.

Hawthorne and Victorian makes the team, DCS out.

Anonymous said...

You have (10) spots assigned to LBs but only 9 spots filled...starters plus Jones, Carter, Sylvester, McFadden and Rolle. Can we assume that Vince Williams is the 10th?

Anonymous said...


Do you think the Steelers factor in who they can stash away on the practice squad without getting the player stolen. A few years ago, I worried a lot about Redman when he was passing through wavers but the Steelers were right and noone stole him. Along with practice squad availability, the likelihood to hide a player may give Parker Wilson the boot vs Landry Jones, or a player like A Robinson the boot over a Chris Carter.
Like it or not, fans have to realize that the Steelers know how to manage the bottom of their roster pretty well. Mike Vrabel was a rare miss by them.

Mrs. Isaac Redman

Yak said...

Dale, I think you only listed nine of your ten linebackers. Who is your Mr. (almost) Irrelevant going to be?

Dale Lolley said...

Corrected. I just don't see Robinson sticking because they hated how he played special teams in 2012. Perhaps he's gotten better. I didn't see it Saturday.

TarheelFlyer said...

Quarterback (3): JPW has looked better in camp? Well he should, he is in his 5th Training Camp. If you are only "slightly" winning in your 5th shouldn't make the roster.

Running back (5): If the reports are true that the Special Teams coach will have some say over the final spots....Batch should win out.

Wide receiver (5): J. Brown wins it right now for me, but Woods should probably be on the PS if we can sneak him there.

Tight end (3): Can't disagree with you here. I hope they make the right choice about Spaeth. He is a role player, you don't save roster spots for a role player.

Offensive line (8): I don't see us keeping 9 right now. 8 is even pushing it as Whimper has been bad.

Defensive line (6): Arnfelt will end up on the PS. Fangupo will probably end up there as well. Ta'amu is making progress.

Linebacker (9): I can't see the FO keeping 10 guys, at least not as long as the CBs still have so many injuries.

Defensive back (11): I think they keep 5 safeties and 6 CBs. The injuries just need to be dealt with prior to making cuts. For me:

S: Troy, Clark, Golden, Shamarko, DCS

CB: Ike, Allen, Gay, Brown, Hawthorne. 1 other guy makes it based on special teams alone IMO. If 3 of these guys weren't currently injured or just getting over injuries we might keep less, and one may get cut as we need a roster spot for an Olineman, but that is what I have at the moment.

Specialists (3): A No-Brainer

Anonymous said...

Dale, what does Batch do, or any running back do on special teams to warrant keeping a 5th RB? Not being snide, but just wondering why it has to be a running back to perform the duties Batch does. I'd rather keep another linebacker or defensive back, and just 4 running backs (Bell, Redman, Stephens-Howling, Johnson.)

Anonymous said...

Dale, with the amount of plays on defense that the Steelers will be in the nickel, dime or "Big Quarter" defensive formations, with no NT on the field, why keep 6 defensive linemen? Woods can back up at NT. Keeping only 5 would allow them to keep someone who can play special teams as well as back up another position. I believe the same way about QB. If the Steelers have to go to a 3rd QB due to long term injuries, the season is lost. If an in-game injury emergency arises and both Ben and Gradkowski get hurt, I would just direct snap the ball to a playmaker, or use Paulson as the emergency QB. L. Jones or JPW add little value, and one could be put on the practice squad.

Anonymous said...

I don't see them keeping 3 QBs. They did last year, but the 3rd didn't dress. So he was of no gameday value, same as a practice squader (which obviously wasn't an option with Batch/Leftwich). Only reason to keep Jones on the 53 is if they're afraid he'll get poached otherwise. He hasn't shown enough to worry about that, or even care if it happened.

TE is a dilemma. Miller will start the year on the 53, but inactive. Can't do the same with Spaeth. Well, they could, but sure don't want to carry 2-3 inactive TEs on your 53. Especially with the way STs looked Sat. 3 coaches in 3 years, I'm guessing there's an emphasis on great improvement there this year. Which should mean higher quality of players. Steelers have little enough depth as it is, can't afford to burn more by carrying a host of injured TEs on their 53. Haven't heard a timetable on Johnson, will he carry over to reserve PUP? They need a good blocking TE for their outside zone, but I hope they don't burn a valuable resource like that IR-exception on Spaeth. We'll see what his timetable is, but imo should waive him injured, and bring him back when he's good to go. Doubt anyone claims him in the interim. Can't afford to hold a seat on the bus for him.

adamg said...

I can see them going with only 2 qbs with 1 on the PS. Neither Jones nor Wilson has shown much and imo, if either BR or Gradkowski get hurt, Batch or Leftwich will be brought back.

Dale Lolley said...

There are all kind of directions the Steelers could go with this roster. As I was talking with a couple of other reporters this morning about it, we all agreed that past history at certain positions might not matter.

Special teams is going to be a big factor. If you asked Kevin Colbert to cut it to 53 now, his roster would probably look much different than the one he will put together in a couple of weeks. Some things are that close.

As for some of the individual stuff/questions I saw on here, I don't see Hawthorne making it at this point. Missed the entire offseason and training camp until Monday with knee injury. He's got a lot of ground to make up in a very short amount of time.

I think the offensive line they open the season with and what they have in Week 2 could be different. Some vets will be cut loose that could help this team. They would probably wait until Week 2 to sign one because of the cap savings. Whimper, by the way, is now listed as the second-team left guard.

Keeping three nose tackles is a possibility because McLendon could be moved outside ala. Kimo Von Oelhoffen next year if they lose both Hood and Keisel hangs it up.