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Friday, August 08, 2014

Looking at the roster heading into first preseason game

After two weeks of talking about the Steelers on the radio, we were searching for topics Thursday night on the Steelers Nation Radio broadcast.

I mentioned to my co-host, Adam Crawley, that perhaps we could take a look at how the roster is breaking down heading into the first preseason game.

So I quickly started crunching numbers and realized that there are about 50-plus spots set on this roster at this point. Certainly, that can change due mostly to injuries, but I actually came up with 53 spots with some tough decisions.

Here's what I had:

Quarterbacks (3): The first two are easy. After that, it's a battle between Landy Jones and rookie Brendon Kay. Kay has looked better than Jones, a 2013, fourth-round draft pick, but that might not mean he wins the roster spot. Jones might get a second year on scholarship before the team pulls the plug on him.

Running back (4): Again, I feel this is pretty cut-and-dried at this point. Le'Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount and Dri Archer will be the top three, with fullback/tight end Will Johnson being the fourth. The Steelers could then stash a running back on the practice squad - or make one active if he's good on special teams.

Wide receiver (5): Again, no need to keep six with the versatile Archer on board. Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore and Martavis Bryant are locks. Justin Brown is nearly a lock.

Tight end (2): Again, versatility rules and Will Johnson's been going strictly to the tight end meetings. He'll be the fullback/No. 3 tight end. Somebody else could make it based on special teams play, with veteran Michael Palmer leading the list at this point. Rookie Eric Waters has an inside track at this point on a practice squad spot.

Offensive line (9): We know who the starters are. The backups at this point are offensive tackles Mike Adams and Guy Whimper, center Cody Wallace and guard Chris Hubbard. Adams has done nothing to earn a roster spot at this point, but the guys behind him really aren't pushing very hard Wesley Johnson, Chris Elkins and Will Simmons are the best of the rest, though Johnson's listed here strictly because he's a draft pick. He hasn't shown me much to this point playing mostly at left tackle.

Defensive line (7): You've got the two Cams (Heyward and Thomas), Steve McLendon, rookie Stephon Tuitt and first-year player Bryan Arnfelt as locks, in my opinion, though Arnfelt is the least secure of that group. I like what rookie Daniel McCullers has shown me, so I'm giving him a scholarship year. Then it comes down to Hebron Fangupo, another nose tackle, or rookies Josh Mauro or Ethan Hemer. Both have shown some promise. Last year's seventh-round pick Nick Williams is athletic but does nothing to stand out. The question will be, do they think they need four nose tackles and keep Fangupo? I don't think so. I think they try to stash another guy on scholarship - possibly Mauro.

Linebacker (9): Again, we know who the starters will be. The backups will be Vince Williams, Terence Garvin, Arthur Moats and Sean Spence. That leaves us with either Chris Carter, rookie Howard Jones, draft pick Jordan Zumwalt or journeyman Vic So'oto, who has looked good at times, for the final spot. At this point, I'm keeping Carter based on experience, but if one of the other guys flashes, he could be in trouble. Jones and Zumwalt could be practice squad guys.

Defensive back (11): Eleven defensive backs? Sure. Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu could be both heading into their final seasons and Cortez Allen isn't signed for next year either. Plus, they have some depth here. Polamalu, Taylor and Allen are givens as are Mike Mitchell, Shamarko Thomas, William Gay, Will Allen and Robert Golden. That's eight already. Antwon Blake is a core special teams guy and I believe Brice McCain will be as well. That's 10. Rookie Shaq Richardson will get a scholarship year. He's shown me enough that they won't want to test the waters with releasing him to put him on the practice squad unless they have a rash of injuries elsewhere.

Specialists (3): Shaun Suisham and Greg Warren are locks. Brand Wing is the punter right now because, well, he's the only punter here. That could change if/when Adam Podlesh's situation with his wife and baby are resolved. But they have to also be prepared for Podlesh to sit out the season as well.


Mark said...

"He hasn't shown me much to this point playing strictly at left tackle."
Another blogger has been mentioning that Wesley Johnson has been tried at three positions (LT, LG, C) and participating on special teams.

Patrick said...

is Podlesh's situation that bad? I guess don't answer that, but thoughts are with him.

Is there any kind of roster exemption for situations like this? Awful for him to go through whatever it is hes going through and lose the job and financial support that comes with it.

Dale Lolley said...

He's primarily been at left tackle

Anonymous said...

23 on O, 27 on D. Guessing not.

Dale Lolley said...

They have a couple of offensive wildcards in W. Johnson and Archer that save spots.

Anonymous said...

Only change I'd make is 10 defensive backs and either an extra running back, receiver or tight end. Three, five and two seems fairly low for skill position players in today's nfl, EVEN is archer and willJ play multiple positions. I think someone else makes it in one of those three positions

snarky said...

11 db's and only 1 (#43) can cover anybody. Carnell is a great coach but he has little to work with.

TarheelFlyer said...

Here is mine:

QB:(3) Ben, Grad, L. Jones = I don't believe they cut Jones yet

RB: (4) Bell, Blount, Archer, W. Johnson = They will keep someone else on the PS. It is risky, but they wouldn't really get any carries anyway.

WR: (5) A. Brown, J. Brown, Wheaton, Bryant, and Moore = Moye could be an option here, but I just don't see them keeping 6

TE: (3) Heath and Spaeth are givens. Right now I want Waters with the #3 and Blanchflower on the PS, but they have a LOT to show in order to dump someone off the roster.

OL: (9) Beachum, Foster, Pouncey, DeCastro, Gilbert, Adams, and Wallace are givens. The last 2 I think come down to about 4 players....Whimper, Johnson, Elkins, and Hubbard with my bets being on Whimper and Johnson at the moment.

24 on Offense

DL: (6) Thomas, McLendon, Heyward, Tuitt, McCullers, and Arnfelt = I could see them keeping a 7th if N. Williams or Fangupo really show something in camp.

LB: (9) Timmons, J. Jones, Worilds, Shazier, Spence, Williams, Garvin, Moats, and Carter = I'd personally rather Carter go, but I think they keep H. Jones and Zumwalt both on the PS.

DB: (10) Ike, Allen, Gay, Blake, Richardson, Troy, Mitchell, Golden, W. Allen, and Thomas

25 on Defense

Now that leaves one roster spot open. That could be any number of players, but my leaders would be: a 5th running back, a 6th WR, a 4th TE, a 7th DL, or another CB. Right now that would be Poole, Moye, Paulson or Palmer, N. Williams or Fangupo, and McCain. Good level of competition IMO.

Dale Lolley said...

Nick Williams has shown me nothing. And I haven't seen any improvement out of Paulson that makes me want to keep him around another year, either.

emac2 said...

Looking at a list of bubble guys there are going to be some tough decisions.

Add in the strong possibility that they pick up another player or 3 before the season starts and things get tricky. I think they'll add a reliable, at worst, LT & will look at players that get cut.

I think the continued adjustment to the CBA and a very deep draft class league wide will lead to more cuts that usual and there will be some good players available.

I'm excited about having quality depth and I know we never make trades but if Tuitt and J Brown excell in preseason I would be very tempted to trade Lance Moore and Cam Thomas, maybe sweetened with Vince Williams to get another LT or CB. Draft choices if nothing else would free the roster spots and enough cash to make a difference at a position of need.

Dale Lolley said...

There won't be any trades emac. This team was burned by a lack of depth last season. Not going to happen again.

emac2 said...

I can't say I expect any trades but I would hope the lesson from last year would be not to leave LT & CB as shallow as C and ILB were last year.

If we go into the season with no acceptable back up at LT or C in case of injury we didn't learn anything of value because the season could once again end in the first game with "well" placed injuries to Beacham and Cortez.

Anonymous said...

man that fade pass pissed me off

Anonymous said...

cameron heyward = jj watt everyone

adamg said...

After tonight's performance, I have a hard time seeing Landry Jones on the final roster. He just cannot handle pocket pressure at all and panics.

The second team OL was bad although I thought Adams and Wallace were mostly competent. Whimper and the OGs were brutal.

Dale Lolley said...

Another anonymous toughguy.

Anonymous said...
cameron heyward = jj watt everyone

Put your name to something or go away.

emac2 said...


I hear you to a point.

Those guys racing past the 2nd and 3rd string O linemen are really big and they are coming to hurt you really bad.

And then hurt you some more when you're under the pile.

Given that 60-70% of the guys that rush seem to get a hit on him I think anyone would be a little panicked.

I think it's very underrated that he's durable enough to still be alive.

Until he plays behind a line good enough to know he isn't going to get hit multiple times on every snap how can he not play expecting to get hit?