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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Post-Panthers thoughts

Instead of posting a bunch of random thoughts in this space, I'm going cut the roster as I see it prior to Saturday based on what I've seen in the preseason, training camp, etc.

Quarterbacks: (2) Ben Roethlisberger and Bruce Gradkowski. Kevin Colbert has said before he's a three-quarterback guy. But a pair of injuries - Martavis Bryant and Brice McCain - might mean the team needs to free up a roster spot, at least temporarily. Landry Jones didn't make any big mistakes in the preseason finale, but he didn't make any plays, either.

Running back: (4) Le'Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount, Dri Archer and Will Johnson. Josh Harris made a late push, but the telling thing to me was in the first quarter, the Steelers lined up with Johnson, their fullback/tight end at tailback for a couple of plays and even gave him a carry. He gained six yards. That tells me the team is looking at contingency plans because it feels it can get by with the three true tailbacks. Harris goes to the practice squad.

Wide receiver: (5) I originally went with four with Archer being a guy capable of playing both running back and receiver. Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore, Bryant and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Heyward-Bey has moved to the head of the pack in the last two preseason games. Justin Brown goes to the practice squad for another year.

Tight end: (3) Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth and Michael Palmer. Palmer did a nice job with his blocking in the preseason finale and is a good special teams player. Rookie Rob Blanchflower heads to the practice squad.

Offensive line: (9) The starters are set. The backups will be Mike Adams, Guy Whimper, Cody Wallace and Wesley Johnson. I didn't have Johnson making it on my previous 53-man rosters, but Wallace's finger injury opened the door for him to step up at center.

Defensive line: (7): Brett Keisel's signing adds to this group. Cam Heyward, Steve McLendon, Stephon Tuitt, Cam Thomas, Daniel McCullers and Josh Mauro get hats. Mauro, however, could head to the practice squad.

Linebacker (10): The starters are set. And Jarvis Jones played a strong game against the Panthers, alleviating some fears about him. Arthur Moats, Vince Williams, Sean Spence, who is injured, and Terence Garvin get the next four spots, leaving two spots for Chris Carter, Howard Jones or Jordan Zumwalt. After watching this one, I think Carter gets one spot and Jones gets the other. Jones is still too thin and gets pushed around, but Zumwalt has been hurt too much to earn a spot. Dan Molls really helped himself against the Panthers. But he's a pure inside linebacker on a team with a bunch of them. He could head to the practice squad with Jones and/or Zumwalt if the team tries to save a space elsewhere.

Defensive back (10): I originally had 11 making it, but the 11 included Shaq Richardson, who has been hurt much of the preseason and should be able to slide onto the practice squad without being claimed. The starters are set along with Will Gay, McCain and Antwon Blake at corner and Will Allen, Shamarko Thomas and Robert Golden at safety.

Specialists: (3) Greg Warren said he's been cleared to resume practice and will play against Cleveland. That's good news for him and somebody else on the roster, bad news for Bryce Davis. Shaun Suisham and Brad Wing will be the kickers. Wing had a pretty decent game against the Panthers, averaging 39.6 yards net on his punts. The Steelers can live with that.


Anonymous said...

Glad to see Mauro getting a hat.

Don't want to see Justin Brown on PS. Cleveland is in need of a WR and he would be on their radar along with bringing our system to help gameplan.

One less LB and that means Chris Carter gets the cut. He's gonna sit and contract is up. Let's use that spot to teach one of the younger guys.

Dale Lolley said...

Justin Brown did nothing in the preseason to warrant a spot on the active roster

adamg said...

Then again, neither did Lance Moore.

Anonymous said...

I disagree about Lance Moore. I spent some time in Latrobe and you can really get a feel for what each player brings when you watch them run the same drills. Moore is very quick, athletic, and has great hands. Justin Brown is slow out of his breaks and doesn't gain separation. He is big with good hands. I don't think any team will be very interested in him, and I think he'll stick on the Steelers' PS.

Anonymous said...

Another year in which we cannot afford an injury to the OL. Zero depth

Dale Lolley said...

Same o-line depth as last year. Did you think John Hannah was going to emerge from one of the undrafted guys?

Moore is a veteran with a proven track record. Brown has no track record and did nothing to earn a spot on this team once the preseason hit.

Jahine Arnold used to tear it up in the offseason when everyone was in shorts and there was no hitting. Once the games started, he did nothing.
I like Brown. But he didn't do anything with the tremendous opportunity put in front of him.

Anonymous said...

If H.Jones makes the active roster its a waste! If So'oto doesnt cause those fumbles then theres nothing to warrant keeping him. His on the field play is at least a year away and probably more. He gets destroyed in live action.

TS said...

What an uninspiring team this is. Going to be another long year. And unfortunately, there does not seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel to me. Poor drafting and poor coaching yields average teams.

Anonymous said...

"Same o-line depth as last year"

Exactly. Terrible. Can't afford an injury and we know it will happen at some point.

Anonymous said...

Hard to get excited about this team. All of our best players are on the downside of their careers and the first round picks with a few seasons under their belts haven't really grown into the players we hoped they'd be. Jones still looks like he can't fight through a block. Bell was a nice surprise last year, but the NFL is more of a passing league.

Hopefully Wheaton steps up like the fantasy nerds expect him to.

Anonymous said...

I predict the Steelers struggle this year as some young players learn the ropes but come back strong and make the playoffs in 2015.

adamg said...

I think the OL depth is better with Wallace at the interior positions. The first team OL seemed not to miss ab beat with Wesley Johnson at C last night.

I anticipate the Steelers will be scanning the waiver wire for an upgrade at back up OT, though.

As for Lance Moore, he might turn out fine, but he didn't establish much rapport with BR by playing so few snaps in preseason. Otherwise he didn't show me anything to warrant the praise being heaped upon him here.

marc said...

the schedule is weak this season, I can see 9-7 or 10-6 as possibilities.

kyle said...


A couple points:

Wesley Johnson got beat soundly on several inside pass rushes. I believe two of the sacks on ol' Landry rest on Wes' shoulders. I don't like Wallace at OG but I think he's fine as a C.

Lance Moore only played in the first two preseason games and the reason he hasn't shown you anything is because the team knows what he can do and wasn't worried about "rapport." He's a pro. He knows his job and he's good at it. The Steelers were getting looks at a bunch of young guys, most of whom were found wanting.

I don't know how the team is going to do this year but I freely admit that every year. Anyone who watches the preseason and thinks they have a sense of how the team will perform is either new to football or had already made up his mind.

Dale Lolley said...

This team will make the playoffs as long as Roethlisberger stays healthy. In fact, it will probably win the division, which does not have a dominant team. I think Cinci takes a step back with two new coordinators and Baltimore's got bigger issues than the Steelers.

Are the Steelers a perfect team? Nope. But the rest of the AFC, outside of Denver and New England, is flawed. I think the Steelers have an offensive group that could be dynamic and a defense that will get better as the year wears on. They'll go 10-6 this season.

Anonymous said...

Palmer did well with his blocking assignments? Not on 4th down he didn't.

DEL jzc said...

What frustrate me more than anything Dale, is that Rooney/Colbert/Tomlin feel the exact way you do.

This team WILL go 11-5 this year due to an incredibly easy schedule and a complete lack of legit competition in the AFC and call it some kind of "success".

You will spin the same thing, telling all of us how Tomlin is now "so many games over .500" or such dribble.

This team is not being built or coached correctly and you know it. You know we are not an elite team. You know we are WAYS away from being a Super Bowl contender just from your experience and inside the door view, but you refuse to say it.

This team will go 11-5 this year, but it is NOT better. Next year we will continue to struggle with the same issues and problems and probably fall back to 8-8 or 9-7.

I just can't buy into this regime anymore. It's smoke and mirrors. The Colbert/Tomlin relationship is broken. To get really good again either one or the other has to go. The problem is the owner is so dead set on "continuity" both seem tied to the hip right now.

The lack of excitement and optimism in the fan base is grossly evident.

It's just watching the same story unfold again and again with this group.

Anonymous said...


Steelers fan here. Couldn't disagree with you any more. The NFL is a league that is designed with fairness and a level playing field in mind. There are ebbs and flows in this game. We the fans had been spoiled with a great run where the Steelers where contenders every year. However, that can't continue forever. Look at the Patriots. We've won 2 SB since their last, because of roster turnover. It happens. Its how it works. This team has a ton of talented young players that just need some time to develop.

To keep the core group in tact, they had to make some tough decisions and are paying a little for it now. I for one, have seen a great deal of development from the younger guys (coaching) and great potential in the last 2 drafts (front office).

So, living in Redskins territory, I see the results of trying to chase the next great coach or sign the biggest free agent or give up 3 drafts for a QB who underperforms. The Skins fans would die to have our coach, front office, and results the last 10 years. So would most other teams.

So, take a deep breath, get some perspective, buy yourself an Antonio Brown jersey, and enjoy the ride.

McFadden 41 said...

Anonymous 758...I couldn't have said it better myself. I have close friends that are fans of teams like the Raiders, Cowboys, and Jets. Ask them if they would swap results over the last 10 years. Hell, the last five years!! People point to the Patriots but fail to point out that they play in the weakest division in pro football. And they have lost their last two trips to the SB. And that they haven't been dominant in quite some time. All teams go through these times. A little perspective and patience goes a long way.

kyle said...

Not to pile on, Del but...

I remember you from the old Steelers website message board right? You were the guy who always disagreed with everything Colbert did right?

Anyway, I was at the Steelers game in Philadelphia in 2008. The game where Ben got sacked or hit on pretty much every drop back. Where they couldn't run the ball. Where the defense played very well except for one blown big play. Where it looked like the offensive line was sub-UFL.

When I walked out of that loss, if someone had said "that Steeler team is going to win the Super Bowl this season" I would have fallen down laughing. They looked like they had no offense whatsoever. It was embarrassingly bad.

You know how that story ended. Looking at a team and saying "they're elite" or "they're Super Bowl contenders" is silly. At no point during the 2007 season, before, during, or up until a few minutes before the end of the Super Bowl did anyone think the Giants were "elite" or "contenders." You know how that went too.

Whether we as fans want to admit it or not, winning the Super Bowl is a crap shoot. Giving yourself a ticket to the dance is the only point. Your complaints are personal preference. That's all. You prefer a different type of overall make-up of the team. That's fine. But don't pretend that you're seeing through the veil. You and I didn't think they were good enough in 2008 either. We were wrong.

Anonymous Brian said...

Yeah, I have no idea either, all I can say is they'll be competitive with Cincy and Balt as long as BR is healthy - wouldn't surprise me if it came down to a 3-team scrum decided by the last week and tiebreakers.

It would be nice if the offense carried the team for a while - the league is practically begging everyone to put up 30 a game - but I'm skeptical. Mostly because I've never seen it, and the second half of last year is a pretty small sample size, and not as impressive as is sometimes made out.

Thank you James Harrison!

Dale Lolley said...

No, they're not an elite team. I think I have said that again and again, actually.

But there aren't a lot of "elite" teams in the NFL. And there are very few in the AFC.

The Steelers are a good team. Their starters are better than most teams out there. Period. Were last season as well until the injuries hit right out of the gate.

The Steelers' "down" seasons have been 8-8, not 4-12. And they went into the final two weeks in each of the past two seasons in the playoff hunt. Spoiled much?

snarky said...

Landry Jones makes me think Sepulveda was'nt such a waste of a 4th round pick after all.