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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Final preseason roster battles

As the Steelers head into their fourth, and final, preseason game, the starting lineup is all but settled.

Many of the key spots are also filled.

But roster spots 45 through 53 are pretty much in play.

Here's what to watch this week:

Tight end-David Johnson returned last week and immediately moved ahead of David Paulson on the depth chart. Can he hold off Michael Palmer and Jamie McCoy? Matt Spaeth is headed for injured reserve. With Johnson back, the Steelers have a decent blocking tight end. The use of Kelvin Beachum helps there as well. Paulson would be the receiving threat until Heath Miller returns. The guess here is that Paulson holds down the job, though Palmer is pushing hard.

Running back-Can Felix Jones beat out Jonathan Dwyer? The coaching staff doesn't trust Dwyer, the team's leading rusher in 2012. He was the starter coming into the offseason and showed up grossly overweight. Dwyer has been the only back of consequence who has stayed healthy in this preseason, but the fact the Steelers traded for Jones - a back with an NFL track record - last week shows that they're looking to continue to push Dwyer. Isaac Redman and Bell won't play against Carolina. Their spots are secure. LaRod Stephens-Howling had perhaps the best showing of any of the team's backs in the preseason opener against the Giants. This is coming down to Dywer or Jones.

Reserve inside linebacker: With Stevenson Sylvester being jettisoned earlier this week, it comes down to Marshall McFadden, Vince Williams, Brian Rolle, Kion Wilson and Terence Garvin. McFadden is a given. He's had an excellent offseason and training camp. Williams has been moved up to second string, but Wilson was on all of the first-team special teams units last week. That leaves Rolle on the outside looking in since he's not eligible for the practice squad, where Garvin would likely be headed. That's at this point. A strong showing on special teams could change all of that.

Reserve safety: There's an assumption that the Steelers will only keep four players here. But given the age and injury history of starters Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark, it could be five since Robert Golden can also play some corner. That means DaMon Cromartie-Smith and Ross Ventrone could both be in the mix. DCS has something the other safeties on the roster don't have - size. Ventrone is scrappy. He did a decent job as a gunner last week. Though he didn't make the tackle, he did his job, taking on two guys and keeping contain.

Cornerback: Isaiah Green, Josh Victorian Terry Hawthorne and Devin Smith are battling for what will likely be one spot on the active roster and one practice squad position. This will strictly come down to special teams. Green didn't help himself by not getting on the field last week against Kansas City, but the team thought enough of him to keep him around. Hawthorne missed the entire offseason and first couple of weeks of training camp with a knee issue. That opened the door for Victorian to keep his name in the mix. This battle is too close to call at this point.

Wide receiver: It's no given that the Steelers will keep five, but it is probable. Reggie Dunn helped himself as a return threat last week, and Derek Moye was featured in the second half passing game. It comes down to a battle between those two, though Justin Brown could force his way back into the conversation with a strong game.


Anonymous said...

It is a shame about J.D. Woods being cut. All he did was make amazing grabs like the two he put on tape with the Steelers. I wonder if they released him with the first wave of cuts to keep him from putting more of these type of plays on tape to showcase his talents to other teams. That way they could sneak him on their practice squad. I hope that is the case.
Although last year I thought Donovan Warren, the corner from Michigan, had a legitimate chance of making the practice squad and now he is probably selling insurance with Tommy Maddox.
What do I know?
Mrs. Isaac Redman

Henigin said...

Is Dwyer's salary as a signed RFA guaranteed?

Anonymous said...

You left off Shamarko so I assume the battle for 5th would be between the last two you mentioned.


Dale Lolley said...

No, Dwyer's salary not guaranteed.

Shamarko Thomas is a lock for the roster. No need to put him on that list.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dale - Is Chris Carter making the team? It seems the young guys have more tools and passed him up. Would love to see your 53 man roster before and after Thursday night's game.

Dale Lolley said...

All going to come down to special teams. Carter is on No. 1 units. Somebody is going to have to beat him there.

Anonymous said...

Really hope Moye makes it. We can find someone besides Dunn to return kicks.

adamg said...

After tonight's adventures, Dunn is PS bound at best.