With tomorrow ending the preseason and Friday's cuts looming, I just wanted to look over the Steelers roster and see what we can really nail down, and what fights are out there.
I also wanted to look at our history of what numbers at what positions we keep, and use that to try to make this list more in line with what the Steelers tend to do, rather than playing Kevin Colbert Home Edition. Also I'm looking at first week rosters, because during the season things get messed up, but how you start the season is pretty consistent.
I'll post a list of my "gut 53" at the end, feel free to look there and then read about positions you want to read about. This is a long post.
Offense: 25, We always go 25/25/3 as others have pointed out, we are also pretty consistent in our offensive position numbers. I don't expect variance this year with the roster options we have.
QB: We always take three, that won't change. Ben and Lefty appear set, so Charlie vs. J. Johnson for #3 is the only fight. I don't think there's much chance Johnson wins it, he fits much better on the PS. The chance someone grabs a QB who has only had reasonable success in scrub time with no time in their offense and no NFL starts and keeps him as their third QB is minuscule.
RB: We take four RB's and a FB every year, even with Bruce. (FB being their listed position, we all know better) I don't think we vary from that. Only a few teams ever take five runners and a FB, Shannahan likes doing it, he's about it. With Mendy off the PUP it looks to be: Mendy, Redman, Dwyer, Rainey. Redman Dwyer and Mendy all can be the main runner, and they compliment each other's skills nicely. Dwyer's improved blocking and receiving will help him take 3rd down back duties while Mendy is out. Redman and Dwyer should fight for that role afterwards. Rainey is our returner and will see several snaps a game on offense.
FB: Will Johnson.
WR: Since Tomlin took over the team we have taken 5-6 WR's. The last couple years we took six, with DJ listed as FB we only carried two at TE and had Battle as our sixth WR. I don't see us using W. Johnson as a TE much, so I expect we'll see 3 TE's and 5 WR. Wallace's return has really cleared up the picture. Brown, Wallace, Sanders, Cotchery are pretty well locked in, with the fight for 5th spot still to be decided. Gilreath, D. Williams and Beiler have shown the most so far, I have no clue who will take the spot in the end. Tomlin will be getting them worked up for this Thursday, who will show up when their job is on the line?
TE: This one got cleared up by the cuts. Saunders suspension and exemption means we can keep three, and that's how many we have. Miller, Pope and Paulson with Saunders replacing Paulson when he gets back. There is a chance we carry an extra Safety week one and TE could be a position we go short, but it would be shocking. The only reason I mention it is this is the one position I could see us going short on offense to carry an extra defender.
OL: We take nine.
Starks, Colon, Pouncey, Foster, Gilbert, Adams, Decastro, Legursky, Essex is my expected nine. You have five starters, the no IR for Decastro, our backup Center, the 2nd round pick and our best reserve who can play every position. I don't see the reserves changing unless we decide to IR Decastro.
Defense: 25, We always take at least 6 DL, 8 LB and 9 DB's. Then we take two other players. Sometimes it's 7-9-9, others it's 6-9-10, we have gone 7-8-10 also, the big thing is ST positions. That will come into play this year.
DL: Pretty clear we'll be taking 7 this year. I haven't seen them working either McLendon or Ta'amu at DE so I'm expecting 4 DE's 3 NT. That will be strange because our 7th has always been a DE who was a big time ST player. I just don't see a DE worth taking for that, esp. over Ta'amu Hampton or McLendon. Keisel and Hood start at end, Heyward is a lock and Woods seems to be in line for the fourth spot. NT McLendon Hampton and Ta'amu. Ta'amu isn't ready, but he's a rookie and he's shown athleticism and strength, he needs coaching and experience. I don't see this going any other way, so we are a player down on ST.
LB: Time to make up that ST spot. Harrison and Worilds are off the PUP, our guaranteed roster spots are Harrison, Woodley, Timmons, Foote, Carter, Spence. only injury keeps them off the 53 at this point. Worilds is a very unlikely cut, taking us to 7. That leaves one or two spots left for Sly, Johnson, A. Robinson. We need one ILB and ST. Three dogs for two bones? Tomlin called AR a "one-trick pony," Tomilinese for Robinson needs to step up on ST and coverage. ST is the big one, look to see how he does there tomorrow. We normally don't keep five ILB's and 4 OLB's, it's almost aways the other way, but Johnson has worked at OLB so he could be the perfect 9th.
There's always the possibility we go 8 and use that spot for Safety if we want to week one, we've gone into games with 8 DB's before, but this is Peyton Manning we're facing, you run short on DB's and he'll kill you. I just don't know who other than Robinson you can expose to waivers. He might even get grabbed, although it would really surprise me. Robinson has been disruptive, but not productive, for all the love he's getting he has one tackle and no sacks. I'm thinking it's Johnson vs. Sly for the 8th spot, and a 10th DB for week one would be the safe bet.
CB: We take five or six (if we take 10 DB's). We could see five and a fifth safety because of Clark though, it really is a mess facing Manning week 1 with your starting FS out but on the roster. Taylor, Lewis, Allen, Brown are set at CB, the fifth looks to be Victorian to me, but that fight can still change in game 4. Victorian has looked better than the others on kick coverage, and ST is a big thing right now. I don't think the CB's stand out enough to keep 6.
S: Always take four. Again could see that change with Clark out for week one. Troy, Clark, Mundy are set, with Allen the safe bet for #4. I think we could see DCS and Allen week 1, DCS can play center field and if Mundy or Troy need rest that's what we will need. Frankly if we are taking a 5th Safety for week one, you need to look at him and say, "I want him on the field week one." Because that is the only reason he's there. That's why I don't see Golden making it to the 53. My main thought is if Allen is fourth safety over DCS then DCS makes the roster for week one as a fifth safety. If DRC beats Allen for #4 I think we go 4 Safeties in week one and keep a LB for ST.
My gut ignores playing it safe and says DCS over Allen, and only 4 safeties. 7 DL, 9 LB, 9 DB, and the full 25 on offense. I think Sly and Johnson make the 53 over AR and Victorian is our fifth CB.
Phantaskippy's Gut 53:
QB: Benjamin Byron Batch (someone name their kid this please)
RB: Mendy, Redman, Dwyer, Rainey
FB: W. Johnson
WR: Brown, Wallace, Sanders, Cotchery, D. Williams
TE: Miller, Pope, Paulson (Saunders after suspension takes Paulson's spot)
OL: Starks, Colon, Pouncey, Foster, Gilbert, Adams, Legursky, Essex, Decastro
DE: Keisel, Hood, Heyward, Woods
NT: McLendon, Hampton, Ta'amu
OLB: Woodley, Harrison, Carter, Worilds
ILB: Timmons, Foote, Spence, Sly, Johnson
CB: Taylor, Lewis, Allen, Brown, Victorian
S: Troy, Clark, Mundy, DCS