Before the Monday night loss to the Washington Redskins, Behind the Steel Curtain highlighted the 15 players most likely to suffer the first cuts of the off-season when teams are required to trim their off-season rosters from 90 to 75 players.
As the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare to play their last preseason game before the deadline, a few names have changed; but what hasn't changed is the fact these players are running out of time to prove themselves worthy of roster consideration. These 15 players have one final chance to plead their case to avoid release.
RB: Jeremy Wright
Wright joined the team too late to be involved in the Redskins game. Considering the team just completed a trade for Felix Jones from the Philadelphia Eagles, Wright's future is growing dim. His best chance to hang around is to outperform Alvester Alexander who has carried the ball in both of the Steelers preseason games so far. With the Starters playing at least a half, there may not be enough opportunity for Wright to change anyone's mind.
Gilreath fell off the returner's depth chart after muffing a punt against the New York Giants. The impressive preseason of rookie Justin Brown also displaced Gilreath a spot on the receiver's chart as well. Gilreath was invisible against the Redskins and may disappear for good at the first cut deadline. The Steelers have had a seemingly deep receiver's list with rookies Brown and Markus Wheaton, Derek Moye and J.D. Woods. Moore has done little outside of a couple kick returns despite not being on the team's returner depth chart. Shaw, like Wright, may have joined the team too late to make an impact.
Overbay and Tuitupou remain the expendable members of the tight end group, especially with the return of David Johnson. Matt Spaeth and Heath Miller continue to work their way back to the field, David Paulson continues to impress despite his unimpressive blocking and Jamie McCoy flashes whenever given the opportunity. Michael Palmer has played like a veteran, and holds no fear of Overbay or Tuitupou.
Whimper has easily been the worst offensive lineman in training camp, despite the organization's hopes for his veteran experience. D'Anthony Batiste has actually shown some improvement from when he first joined the team. Farrell was cut once before and re-signed, but Joe Long has been taking the snaps with the second team. Considering the third unit may not see the field tonight, Farrell's best hope is the practice squad. Same can be said for Cheadle who was excelling at guard before suffering a significant hamstring injury. He also is a prime candidate for the scout team should he be well along the road to recovery. Joe Madsen was on this list last week, but he may be retained to play center in the fourth preseason game to preserve Kelvin Beachum, John Malecki and Maurkice Pouncey.
LB: Terence Garvin
Every Steelers linebacker has played well at one point this preseason, but Garvin went mostly unnoticed against the Redskins. Kion Wilson and Brian Rolle have been more impressive leaving Garvin at the bottom of a list of good players. Depending on how final cuts are handed down, Garvin still has a shot at the practice squad, though be it a very long one.
Van Dyke suffered a significant hamstring injury of his own in the early stages of training camp and has not returned since. With Isaiah Green, Josh Victorian and rookie Terry Hawthorne battling for possibly one or two spots, there isn't enough room for everybody. Steed has been invisible during his stay in Pittsburgh. Smith made a nice interception along the sidelines against the Redskins' fourth-string quarterback Pat White, but it might not be enough to pass anyone above him.
SS: Ross Ventrone
Ventrone came to camp hoping his special teams contributions could earn him a spot, but there are only so many seats on the bus. Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith stands ahead of him on the depth chart, especially grabbing a pick against the Redskins; but even he is in jeopardy of not making the final roster. He has taken a majority of the snaps at safety while rookie Shamarko Thomas has operated as a nickelback, but Thomas is expected to be a primary reserve and future starter. Ventrone is the most expendable of the group.
P: Brian Moorman or Drew Butler
The team should know by know which punter has won this job. The Steelers had competitions at their other specialist positions, but those battles came to premature ends due to limited roster space because of injuries. The team is set with Shaun Suisham at placekicker and Greg Warren as their longsnapper. Citing a victor in the punter battle after Week 3 of the preseason would allow another skill player to hang around and compete for one more week.
These players get what could be their last shot when the Steelers take on the Kansas City Chiefs Saturday at 7:30 pm ET.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Chiefs vs. Steelers Preseason Week 3 Gameday Stream
- Adrian Robinson for Felix Jones Trade: Everything we know
- Woodley set to take on first overall pick
- Source: Stephens-Howling not expected to play, still could play a few snaps
- ESPN backs out of concussion documentary
- Weekend Checkdown
- 5 Questions with the enemy
- Gameplan to be implemented vs. Chiefs
- Steelers Injury Report: Jones unknown for Saturday, Stephens-Howling may miss preseason
- Which Steelers player would you take right now? (From Arrowhead Pride)
- What worries you about playing the Kansas City Chiefs Saturday?
- David Paulson hears fans cheering for Heath Miller when he catches a pass