clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cut-Down Day Raises Questions...Or Maybe Not

Getty Images

As our Fearless Leader posted Friday, the Steelers made an early push into cut-down day, trimming their roster of these 11 players: OG Dorian Brooks, OT Kyle Jolly, WR Brandon London, TE Sean McHugh, DT Scott Paxson, LS Matt Stewart, S Justin Thornton, LB Renauld Williams, TE Eugene Bright and RB Justin Vincent.

There are more painful cuts coming. Borderline questionable cuts.

Or maybe not.

Reports are circulating that veteran C Justin Hartwig won't avoid the Turk by today's deadline. That's not a surprising move, considering the way rookie C Maurkice Pouncey played this preseason.

One of the reasons Hartwig and his $2 million price tag are/were deemed expendable was the maturation and versatility of second-year lineman Kraig Urbik. It was said he improved a bit over his rookie season, and had the ability to play both guard positions, and even spent some time at center.

But it seems as if Urbik may be on the Turk's agenda of players to visit this afternoon as well.

If true, it shows how much faith the team has in other young linemen, like Tony Hills, Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster. Or, at the very least, it shows the premium the Steeles (and other teams) place on versatility.  

Again, if this is what happens, the Steelers are likely going with nine lineman - (T) Max Starks, Flozell Adams, Jonathan Scott, Hills, (G) Chris Kemoeatu, Trai Essex, Ramon Foster, (C) Pouncey and Legursky.

Legursky's versatility is what would lead the team to release Urbik, the 2009 third-round draft pick out of Wisconsin. While Urbik played center on the second team for minicamp and part of training camp, Legursky's quickness has kept coaches' eyes on his ability as a lead blocking fullback.

Reports are also out that fan favorite Frank "The Tank" Summers will also be cut, most likely due to Legursky's ability to play that position, if needed, as well.

The comments on BTSC are already in an uproar over Summers' presumed release, but when you have two other guys - Legursky and TE/FB David Johnson - who can both play multiple positions, the cut makes sense.

It's a numbers game, and nowhere is that more prevalent than the roster. Legursky can provide depth at center, guard and fullback, while Urbik can only serve the team on the line, and Summers can only play in the backfield.

Veterans like Summers often get cut in favor of the high ceiling rookie, like RB Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh's preseason rushing champ. While he may not have performed well enough to be considered for a roster spot, his potential is high enough that the team won't risk placing him on the practice squad, where another team can sign him to its active roster.

It seems likely another team would scoop both Urbik and Summers up, considering their age, and in Urbik's case, high level of improvement from his Year 1 to Year 2.

The same concept of improvement leaps can be said about Tony Hills. If he makes this team, he did it fighting from the mat up. He had to be a borderline cut going into 2010, but had some strong performances during preseason game competition, and appears to be developing into the tackle the Steelers hoped the could develop when they drafted the raw product in the fourth round in 2007.

The secondary was probably the unit of most intrigue this camp, the cornerback position in particular. The Steelers invested a fifth-round pick into All-American CB/PR Joe Burnett last year, but it doesn't seem likely he'll stick, given the impressive camp of 2010 fifth round pick Crezdon Butler. Burnett will likely be beaten out by Butler at cornerback, and by rookie WR Antonio Brown in the return game (Stefan Logan will also likely be a victim of Brown).

None of this really comes as a surprise. While Logan had a strong season as a kick returner, he also lacks the versatility (there's that word again) that Brown has. The rookie will compete for 4th WR duties, as well as being likely to return the Falcons first kickoff and punt in Week 1.