Preseason Roster

This is the preseason Steelers roster with a little insight to people's chances of making the roster. I realize this might be a little early for projections, but I'm just too excited for football season to be starting again.

Few teams are probably as happy as the Steelers to get into training camp and start off the 2010 season. Injuries, suspensions, questionable decisions by players, trading away a super bowl makes a fan miss the usual boring Steeler offseason. There were a few positives, Coach Tomlin along with most the Front Office got contract extensions and we brought back a few Steelers that we had lost to free agency in past years. As for players we lost, Steeler free agents were in less demand that usual. Although Darnell Stapleton, Carey Davis, Travis Kirschke, and Tyrone Carter are no longer on the team no team has shown interest in them. The only significant Steelers that was signed by other teams were Willie Parker & Deshea Townsend and the Steelers basically let them walk away.

I divided the roster up into groups: those practically guaranteed a roster spot, those with a good chance but still fighting for a roster spot, and those that are a long shot. I considered a player to have a guaranteed roster spot if they were a starter last year & haven't lost their starting spot yet or if a significant investment was recently made to get them (high draft pick or signing bonus). For example, the earliest draft pick cut during preseason in the past 10 years was 4th rd Danny Farmer. I also listed who I think the week 1 starters will be, some info about the players, and explained my side on any significant position battles.

Special Teams: 4 players (minimum is 3)

Odds Player Pos Age Exp Notes
definite Reed, Jeff  31 9 Starter
Sepulveda, Daniel  26 4 Starter
Warren, Greg  LS 28 6 Starter. 2 torn ACL's past 2 years.
possible Logan, Stefan  KR 29 2 Last year's KR

Key Battles: Logan vs. other bubble players & KRs: I think he'll have to show he's more than just a return man while still proving he's by far the best KR on the roster. Unfortunately, being used as a WR/RB in unique plays may have more to do with Arians than Logan. I think hope Logan makes the team but it's certainly not written in stone.

Offensive Line
: 9 players (minimum is 8)

Odds Player Pos Age Exp Notes
definite Starks, Max  T 28 7 Starter
Kemoeatu, Chris  G 27 6 Starter. Missed 4 games last year due to knee
Hartwig, Justin  C 31 9 Starter
Pouncey, Maurkice C/G 21 R 2010 1st rd. PS eligible.
Essex, Trai  G/T 27 6 Projected starter at RG
Colon, Willie  T 27 5 IR for torn achilles tendon
possible Adams, Flozell T 35 13 Projected starter at RT. FA. 2009 starter for Cowboys
Foster, Ramon  G 24 2 Started 4 games last year due to Oline injuries
Scott, Jonathan  T 27 4 FA. 8 game starter in 2009 for Bills
Urbik, Kraig  G 24 2 PS eligible. 2009 3rd rd. No playing time last year
close&cut Legursky, Doug  C 24 2 PS eligible. Had some playing time last year
Scott, Chris G/T 23 R 2010 5th rd. PS eligible. Currently on PUP for foot
unlikely Brooks, Dorian G 23 R UDFA. PS eligible
Hills, Tony  T 25 3 2008 4th rd. No playing time to date
Jolly, Kyle T 23 R UDFA. PS eligible
Jones, Arian T 29 6 Not on a team last year. 10 game starter in 2008 for Chiefs

Key Battles: Pouncey vs Essex: Regardless of who wins the battle to start at RG, it's highly unlikely Essex will be cut since he's versatile and a potential starter at 2 different positions. The starting roster coming out of training camp will most likely be Starks, Kemoeatu, Hartwig, Essex, and Adams. I do hope Pouncey is quick to replace Essex because Essex did not look good last year.
-Adams vs Essex vs J. Scott vs Hills: Adams spot is certainly not set and he could easily be cut if J. Scott or Essex prove to be a better tackle. He received no guaranteed money and essentially signed a one year contract (no way he'll get the 5 mil next year as a 36yo). But Adams getting signed for $2.5 mil right before training camp doesn't speak too highly of the other potential candidates at tackle. If J. Scott proves to be a solid tackle he can still make the team as a backup if he loses the starting job to Adams. With all the new competition at tackle, this is the make or break year for Hills. He won't be able to make the team just because there wasn't any decent competition, he's not Practice Squad eligible and he has used up all patience being an inexperienced player buys. I have a feeling he won't be on the roster come week 1. Newly drafted C. Scott will start out the year on the Physically Unable to Perform and probably won't make it back in time to participate in preseason. Since he's a later rd pick, he's likely to go straight from the PUP to the PS.
-Pouncey vs Legursky: With the addition of Pouncey, it makes Legursky expendable. I doubt we keep 3 centers but at least he's practice squad eligible.
-Pouncey vs Foster vs Urbik: Urbik will have some competition as well with both Pouncey and Foster at guard. Good news is that if Urbik is cut he'll be eligible for the practice squad, but that's unlikely because he only has to show he has potential & the Steelers will find a spot for him. I think he'll end up on the team. Foster has a great chance of making the team with how well he played last year.

Tight ends
: 4 players (minimum is 3)

Odds Player Pos Age Exp Notes
definite Miller, Heath  TE 27 6 Starter
possible Johnson, David  TE/FB 23 2 Played in 15 games last year
McHugh, Sean  TE/FB 28 7 Spent 2009 on IR for knee
Spaeth, Matt  TE  25 4 #2 receiving TE
unlikely Bright, Eugene  TE/DE 25 1 PS eligible. 2009 PS member

Key Battles: McHugh vs Johnson: You might think I'm drinking the same Kool-Aid Arians is for thinking the Steelers might keep 4 tight ends. Realistically, they'll probably only keep 3 but I'll explain my reasoning later. Personally, I hope it's Spaeth that ends up being cut instead of either McHugh or Johnson because of his poor blocking. For that to happen McHugh or Johnson will have to prove themselves as an adequate receiving TE incase Miller goes down with an injury.

: 3 players (minimum is 3)

Odds Player Pos Age Exp Notes
definite Mendenhall, Rashard  RB 23 3 Starter
Moore, Mewelde  RB 28 7 #2 RB
possible Dwyer, Jonathan RB 21 R 2010 6th rd. PS eligible
close&cut Redman, Isaac  RB 25 1 PS eligible. 2009 PS member & played in 1 game
Summers, Frank  RB/FB 24 1 PS eligible. Spent most of 2009 on IR for back
unlikely Vincent, Justin  RB 27 2 2009 PS member
Taylor, Demetrius FB 23 R UDFA. PS eligible

Key Battles: McHugh/Johnson vs Summers/Taylor: The reason for keeping both Johnson and McHugh is that they both can play fullback & both looked far better than Summers last year. Plus, neither is PS eligible (unlike Summers & Taylor). I don't think this will be the year the Steelers go back to having actual FB on the roster.
-Redman vs Dwyer vs Summers: Summers could make the team as a running back and not a fullback but I think Dwyer wins this battle. Dwyer will beat out Redman to make the team since the team invested a draft pick in Dwyer and he's 4 ½ years younger. I do concede to the Redman fan club out there that he does have a legit chance to make the team.
-Some ppl have postulated that Moore might be cut for salary cap reasons, but I don't think there is a real chance of that. There isn't another running back on the Steelers roster besides Mendenhall who has a regular season carry. I think this is the end of the line for Justin Vincent, who has used up all of his practice squad eligibility.

Quarterbacks: 3 players (minimum is 3)

Odds Player
Pos Age Exp Notes
definite Leftwich, Byron QB 30 8 Projected week 1 starter. Trade with Bucs for 2010 7th rd pick
Roethlisberger, Ben  QB 28 7 Long term starter. Suspended 4-6 games
Batch, Charlie  QB 35 13 2 broken bones in past 2 years
Dixon, Dennis  QB 25 3 2008 5th rd. Started 1 game last year

Key Battle: Leftwich vs Dixon: I think the starting job belongs to Leftwich right now. Dixon will have to serious outplay Leftwich to steal the job away, which will be difficult with 3 different ppl needing to get reps with the first team. Batch is just here for moral support and veteran insight & Ben will retake the starting job come week 5.

Wide receivers: 5 players (minimum is 5)

Odds Player Pos Age Exp Notes
definite Ward, Hines  WR 34 13 Starter
Wallace, Mike  WR 24 2 Projected #2 WR. #3 WR last year
Randle El, Antwaan  WR/PR 31 9 Projected #3 WR. FA from the Redskins. Received 900K SB
Battle, Arnaz  WR/PR 30 8 FA from the 49ers. Special teamer. Received 975K SB
Sanders, Emmanuel WR 23 R 2010 3rd rd. PS eligible
Sweed, Limas WR 25 3 IR for torn achilles tendon
close&cut Brown, Antonio WR/KR 22 R 2010 6th rd. PS eligible
unlikely Grisham, Tyler  WR 23 1 PS eligible. 2009 PS member & played in 4 games
London, Brandon  WR 25 2 Not on a team last year. Played in 14 games in 2008 for Dolphins
Williams, Isaiah WR 23 R UDFA. PS eligible

Unlike a lot of ppl, I think it's pretty straight forward the WRs who will make the team. There is little chance either Battle or Randle el are cut because they each received about a $1 mil signing bonus this offseason. Sanders' spot is practically guaranteed due to how high he was drafted. Brown has said to have looked good in OTA's, but OTA's are a lot different than the real thing. He does have a fighting chance of making the team, but then the Steelers would have to carry 6 WRs. I think the late 6th rd pick will probably end up on the practice squad, unless he really impresses during preseason & the Steelers don't think he'll be safe there. His best chance is if he takes Logan's KR job. Grisham will probably be back on the PS.

Defensive Line: 7 players (minimum is 7)

Odds Player Pos Age Exp Notes
definite Hampton, Casey  NT 33 10 Starter

Keisel, Brett  DE 31 9 Starter
Smith, Aaron  DE 34 12 Starter. Spent most of 2009 on IR
Hood, Ziggy  DE 23 2 2009 1st rd. Played in all 16 games last year
possible Eason, Nick  DE 30 8 Started in 8 games last year due to injuries on Dline
Harris, Ra'Shon  DE 24 2 PS eligible. 2009 6th rd. Played in 2 games with Panthers
Hoke, Chris  NT 34 9 Played in all 16 games last year
close&cut Worthington, Doug DE 23 R 2010 7th rd. PS eligible
unlikely McLendon, Steve  DT 24 1 PS eligible. PS member last year
Paxson, Scott  NT 27 1 Not on a team last year. Played in 1 game in 2009

Key Battles: Harris vs Worthington: I think Harris will make the team since he seemed to show last year that he has potential. People have said positive things about Worthington during OTA's, but with the high age of most of the starters on Dline having backups with experience in the Steelers system is a premium. I think he'll end up on the PS.
-Hoke has a lot of experience and has been a solid backup. Paxson, on the other hand, has yet to prove himself as a reliable backup. Eason is the only DE backup who has starting experience so he'll probably make the team.

Linebackers: 9 players (minimum is 8)

Odds Player
Pos Age Exp Notes
definite Harrison, James  OLB 32 7 Starter
Woodley, LaMarr  OLB 25 4 Starter
Farrior, James  ILB 35 14 Projected starter
Timmons, Lawrence  ILB 24 4 Projected starter
Foote, Larry  ILB 30 9 FA. 2009 starter for Lions. Received 1.8 mil SB
Fox, Keyaron  ILB 28 7 Started 3 games last year & played in all 16
Worilds, Jason OLB 22 2010 2nd rd. PS eligible
possible Gibson, Thaddeus OLB 22 2010 4th rd. PS eligible
Sylvester, Stevenson ILB 22 2010 5th rd. PS eligible
close&cut Bailey, Patrick  LB 24 3 Played in all 16 games last year. Special teamer
Frazier, Andre  LB 28 6 Starting out preseason on PUP. Special teamer
unlikely Williams, Renauld  LB 29 5 Past 3 seasons in CFL

Key Battles: Sylvester & Gibson vs Bailey & Frazier: Sylvester & Gibson seem to have great potential on defense and special teams, the later is something the other backup linebackers seemed to struggle with last year. Frazier & Bailey do have a decent chance of making the team, but they'll have to show they've improved on special teams.
-Gibson vs Frazier: If neither Worilds nor Gibson look great at OLB, Frazier will stay because otherwise we won't have decent backup at OLB.

Defensive Backs: 10 players (minimum is 9)

Odds Players Pos Age Exp Notes
definite Clark, Ryan  FS 30 9 Starter
Polamalu, Troy  SS 29 8 Starter. Was injured for most of 2009
Taylor, Ike  CB 30 8 Starter
McFadden, Bryant CB 28 6 Projected #2 CB. Trade with Cardinals for 2010 5th rd pick
Allen, Will    S 28 7

FA. Started 2 games in '09 for Buccaneers.

IR for thumb for 1/2 of last season. Special teamer. 975k SB
possible Burnett, Joe  CB 23 2 2009 5th rd. Played in 15 games last year
Butler, Crezdon CB 23 R 2010 5th rd. PS eligible
Gay, William  CB 25 4 Projected #3 CB. Lost starting job to Townsend end of 2009
Lewis, Keenan  CB 24 2 PS eligible. 2009 3rd rd. Played in 4 games last year
Mundy, Ryan  FS 25 2 Played in all 16 games last year
close&cut Madison, Anthony  CB 28 5 Special teamer. Played in 12 games last year (4 with Steelers)
unlikely Pitman, David  CB 26 4 Not on a team last year. On teams but not play in 2008
Harris, Tuff  DB 27 4 2009 PS member. Played in 6 games for Titans in 2008
Thorton, Justin S 23 R UDFA. PS eligible

Key Battles: Burnett vs Butler vs Lewis vs Madison vs Gay: At least one player will be cut from this group. The Steelers have 3 young guys with potential that they probably won't want to lose (Burnett, Butler, and Lewis). It is worth mentioning Gay, Butler, Lewis, or Burnett could be cut if they don't seem to be improving and are far behind the rest of the CB's. With all the young draft picks at CB's, I think Madison will have a tough time making the team. He only seems to be a good special teamer and is really lacking as a CB.
-Allen's spot is guaranteed because of the $1 mil signing bonus get got this offseason. Mundy will probably be the last safety just because of a lack of serious competition.

Although 95% of the spots are decided by people competing against others playing the same position, the last few spots on the team are competitions between people of different roster spots (ex. Logan vs Butler). Right now, I have 54 players making the team and I'm curious who you think that last cut will be.

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