Another couple of weeks have passed, meaning two more weeks of OTAs in the books. Now, the wait for training camp is on. We won't know much more about the shakedown of the roster until late July, so let's take another stab at the 53 man roster, in the wake of OTAs coming to an end. You can see our last crack at predicting the roster here.
Quarterbacks (3): Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch, Dennis Dixon
Running Backs (5): Willie Parker, Rashard Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore, Gary Russell, Carey Davis
Wide Receivers (5): Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Limas Sweed, Nate Wasington, Dallas Baker
Tight Ends (3): Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Jonathan Dekker
Offensive Linemen (9): Marvel Smith, Kendall Simmons, Justin Hartwig, Chris Kemoeatu, Willie Colon, Max Starks, Darnell Stapleton, Tony Hills, Jason Capizzi
Defensive Linemen (7): Brett Keisel, Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith, Kyle Clement, Chris Hoke, Travis Kirschke, Ryan McBean
Linebackers (9): James Harrison, Larry Foote, James Farrior, LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Keyaron Fox, Andre Frazier, Mike Humpal, Bruce Davis
Defensive Backs (9): Ike Taylor, Bryant McFadden, DeShea Townsend, William Gay, Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Ryan Mundy, Anthony Smith, Travis Williams, Tyrone Carter
Specialists (3): Greg Warren, Jeff Reed, Daniel Sepulveda
Say Hello To:
Dennis Dixon - Dixon has had some solid OTA sessions, and as was mentioned by Jim Wexell, the Steelers aren't the type to stash away players. And as you guys mentioned in the previous 53-man roster post, perhaps it'd be more wise to have Dixon out there, dressed, and accountable for the game-plan, at least to some degree, week in and week out.
Dallas Baker - At this point, there have just been too many reports singing Baker's praises to not consider him the front-runner for the 5th (and final?) WR spot on this roster. This story, written just over a week ago, had me thinking that Baker has the right attitude in his second year, and may just be one of those late bloomers that is all-too-often written off because he didn't max out before the age of 21-24.
Kyle Clement - Dale Lolley recently wrote that Kyle Clement got some extra work in after practice with Aaron Smith. Smith was working with him on hand placement and how to get out of one's stance quickly and strongly. Not a bad mentor to have. We'll see what happens when the pads go on, but for now Clement seems to be on a fast-track to making this roster. There sure is an opening at his position for him to seize the opportunity.
Andre Frazier - Frazier takes over Arnold Harrison's role in this version of the Steelers 53 man roster. As you guys astutely noted, Frazier provides more on special teams and Harrison really has not proven himself to be more than just 'another guy'.
Travis Williams - Here's the shocker of the session. Williams, an undrafted free agent rookie CB out of East Carolina, impressed Lolley this past week. Here's what he noted:
Another player who has caught my eye is undrafted cornerback Travis Williams from East Carolina.
Williams looks to have good playmaking ability and can run. He's just 5-9, 180, though, so he is lacking some size.
Not much, I know, but here's my thinking. If Dallas Baker, or for that matter, if Micah Rucker even, makes this team, we potentially have a void in the return game. Santonio Holmes has been fielding some punts this offseason, but he was shaky when called upon his rookie season, and despite the fact that I believe you should put your best weapons on the field at all times, the fact of the matter is that we can not afford to lose Santonio Holmes to injury. Furthermore, we brought in Mewelde Moore to field punts.
Back to Williams. Because of his small size (5'9"), it's easy to understand why he was overlooked in this year's draft. You just don't invest much in a CB that heighth, but that doesn't mean there aren't some playmakers in the large crop of shifty, speedy, athletic, and undersized DBs and WRs. Mr. Devin Hester is but a mere 5'11", 185-190 pounds himself.
With Clark apparently looking fit so far this offseason (read Lolley's notes again if you missed it), Troy Polamalu adhering to his personal workout regiment in Southern California, I think the coaching staff might decide that carrying an extra safety in a guy like Mike Lorello is unecessary. Instead, why not add an CB to learn behind the intense battles surely to take place between BMac and Deshea? And if he can potentially earn a spot returning kicks (which could be a huge question mark if the coaching staff shy away from putting Mendenhall back there) and punts, the move might make all the more sense.
Say Goodbye To:
Anthony McFarland - for now, we're not players in the Booger game. We didn't even show up to his private workout on June 4th.
Micah Rucker - We'll see what happens when the pads go on, but for now, Baker's got the leg up.
Sean Mahan - We've talked about it ad nauseum, but if the organization feels Stapleton, Hartwig, Simmons, and Kemoeatu are all ready to go, there's really no need in my opinion to incur the somewhat hefty pricetag to keep Mahan on the payroll. It still blows my mind that the coaches are not moving Colon inside to guard. If Starks and Smith are playing, with Hills, Essex, Capizzi as potential backups, why keep Colon as the #3 T option. Might we be posturing to tamper with his market value, which is the hypothesis I offered in December of last season for how and why Starks was managed last year? If the team hopes to keep Marvel Smith around, surely there won't be that much money to keep a guy like Colon around, unless he's underutilized this year, and only able to be judged by his 2007 season, which needless to say, left plenty to be desired, despite some positives here and there. Anyway, I think Mahan's too expensive to keep around. He's not as bad as many make him out to be. But he's not solid enough to incur less salary cap and potentially find hidden talent by giving someone else an opportunity.
Mike Lorello - I offered my probably crazy thought process in the section about Travis Williams. Even if Williams doesn't make the team, which odds say he won't, Lorello's still probably not going to make it. Tyrone Carter is a better option, and he's not all that expensive for what he provides as a veteran.
Arnold Harrison - I wouldn't be surprised if we see Harrison at some point this year on the Steelers. I'm not sure if we'd put him on the practice squad or not, but my guess is he'd be first in line to assume a roster spot in the event of an injury to anyone of the LBs on the team.