My approach is a little bit different from most of the others I have seen to date. My analysis starts with the 53 man active roster of last year and I work from there.
The 53 man active roster I start with is the one that began last season. From that roster we lost eleven guys, for argument sake let’s say we brought one guy to replace each lost.
So here it goes:
Lost Leftwich brought in Charlie Batch.
Lost Washington brought in third round pick Wallace.
Lost Simmons brought in third round pick Urbik.
Lost Marvel Smith brought in Capizzi .
Lost Orpheus Roye brought in first round pick Ziggy Hood.
Lost Mc Fadden brought in third Round pick Keenan Lewis.
Lost Fernando Bryan brought in FA Ratliff
Lost Antony Smith brought in Mundy from PS.
Lost (Thank God) Berger brought in Sepulveda.
Lost Gary Russell brought in Redman
Let’s say this 11 new guys plus the ones that where here from last year where the new 53 man active roster with which the Steelers started at training camp. Then the competition began, I will only list the competition where I think there is a possibility to change the name of the roster.
I think the only new guy that has for sure beaten the former man in the roster is:
Shaun MacDonald has beaten Dallas Baker.
The other competitions are not yet decided:
Summers against Davis, I think summers lost a great opportunity when he lost the short yard back battle against Redman, now he only does exactly what Davis does with out excelling at anything yet (exactly as Davis), with out the experience but with much more potential. I think summers goes to PS to gain that experience, specially at blitz pick up, where I think the Steelers are not going to take any risk with a rooky.
Johnson vs. McHugh, This is close, Johnson seems better at blocking and ST, but McHugh has the experience, I don’t know about catching, which we haven’t seen a lot from these guys, but I don’t think that will be the determinant factor. I will like to think Johnson gets the roster spot, but to close to call.
Edit: McHugh seems to be hurt, this makes the decision a lot simpler.
Sonny Harris vs. Travis Kirschke, I know a lot of people think the roster spot that is in danger is Eason, but if you are going to cut a veteran, why will you not cut the one that has only one more year as a Steeler? Travis is going to be 35 and Eason can give the Steelers 3 or 4 more years as a serviceable backup. What I believe this battle will depend on is whether the Steelers think they can pass Sonny thru waivers or not, if they think they can, Sonny will be in PS and will most likely be in the 53 man roster next year when Travis retires.
Legursky vs. Stapleton, They both are C/G swing backups, Stapleton has the experience and has “jell” with the rest of the starters, but Legursky just seems stronger and a better run blocker. The injury to Stapleton has made it hard to judge, because we don’t know how much has Stapleton improved. I think this will depend of Stapleton health, if he comes back is another year in PS for Legursky, if not he make the team.
Burnett vs. Madison, Joe blew a great opportunity to distinguish himself from Madison by been also a PR, I think he is better at nickel back but Madison is way better as a gunner in ST. I think for now this is more important for the Steelers (We are deep at DB). So Madison is winning this one. Joe has to play lights out as a gunner in the next two games if he wants a chance.
Roy Lewis vs. Mundy, Not impress by any of these two, Roy played better against Washington.
Patrick Bailey vs. Arnold Harrison vs. Bruce Davis vs. Andre Fraizer, These 4 are competing for 3 spots, Patrick Bailey and Arnold Harrison are the guys who weren’t in the 53 man active roster to start last year. I think Bailey makes the team as ST ace, not impress by the other 3, not matter which two makes it there is a huge drop from Woodley and James to these guys. Rotation could be a weakness for the Steelers this year.
Finally there are some guys who are competing to change the numbers, until this point of the analysis I have assume that the Steelers will keep the same numbers of players they did a year ago in every position, for example 9 OL. There are some players that are looking for the Steelers to change the numbers in their position.
Redman: Obviously his not competing against FWP, Mendenhall or Moore who where the 3 RB in the active roster last year from September 23 until Mendenhall got hurt. His only chance is for the Steelers to carry 4 RB. I think what plays against him is even if he makes the 53 roster no way he makes the 45 active players (I just don’t see how can you dress 4 RB), so he will not help in the short yard situation during actual games. So I really don’t see the point of him making the roster. I think he goes to PS and if someone goes down he will be call.
Foster: In theory he is competing against Urbik, in reality there is no way the Steelers will cut their third round draft pick (which is playing ok not great), others may think he is competing against Capizzi , but in reality Foster is practicing and playing exclusively as guard and Capizzi is playing exclusively at tackle, same for Hills. Yes, Foster was a tackle in college, but it doesn’t seem like the Steelers are looking at him that way. The only argument will be that the primary backup at tackle will be Essex and Stapleton will be place as guard again in case of an injury to Starks or Colon.
While this may be a possibility, you will only do it if you don’t have another choice, you don’t like to move so many people. So in order for the Steelers to consider this alternative Hills or Capizzi really have to suck and Foster has to play lights out better than at least one of them. I know there are a lot of people who think so, but I think they are playing OK, yes Hills had a tough game but he didn’t gave up any sacks and run block Ok. (As RT he suck but that’s a different story)
To me Foster best chance is for the Steelers to keep 10 OL so he may become the backup for Kemoeatu, obviously in this case he will also have to beat Legursky who could beat him out for the 10th OL spot.
All this could change if we see Foster playing at RT during the next games, in that case it will be Capizzi in trouble.
I know a lot of people will consider cutting Hills, but I think he is the only true LT in the roster, so I believe the Steelers will keep trying to make him a “football player” quoting Tomlin.
Logan: He is the new comer and I am sure making the coaches re-think everything. You really have to be special to make a team exclusively as a PR/KR, a la Hester. He is going to have to repeat with two stellar performances the next two games.
If he is only good he doesn’t make the team. Wallace will handle KR, and Moore, Holmes and Ratliff could handle PR. So he has to be spectacular. I guess we should see.
In any case where are these spots coming from?
I can only think of three places:
1.- Loose one OLB, in this case more likely Bruce Davis. This means go with only 8 LB and make Timmons your primary backup at OLB with whom ever makes the team between Fraizer and Arnold the second Backup. And put Fox as a starter when you move Timmons.
2.- Go with only three safeties, and use Ratliff and/or Deshea as your FS backup.
3.- Loose one Special Team player; Bailey or Madison. Maybe you could do this if Woods, Johnson, Arnold, Ratliff (As gunner) pick up their game. You could only take one away.
I personally will do number one. And keep Foster. If Logan performs the same as last time I will probably do number two.
So In conclusion I keep:
FB (1) Davis
TE (3) Johnson
OL (10) Foster, Urbik, Capizzi, Legursky (if Stapleton is out)
DE (5) No Sony for now but I think he is very close.
LB (8) Cut Davis, and Harrison keep Fraizer and Bailey.
DB (6) Madison in, PS for Burnett.
S (3) Deshea and Ratliff will be use if necessary as backups at Safety.
KR/PR (1) Logan, If he doesn’t show “it” again next games his out.
K, P, LS (3)
Special Teams (4)
Bruce Davis, Arnold Harrison, Joe Burnett , Roy Lewis , Mundy , Redman , Summers and Sony, will play for the last roster spot in the next two weeks.
Travis, Bailey, Madison, Logan, Carey Davis, Capizzi and maybe Hills could be whom they take it away from.
All in all that’s 13 new players or 25% change from last year roster.
On PAPER I like this team better. Although I think we are very slim at OLB, LT, FS, and weaker at Backup QB.
For a SB champion team to have 6 rookies in its roster is impressive. It could even go up to 8.
Thanks for your comments