With a dismal opening half to the preseason over for the Pittsburgh Steelers, a few players jumped over others while some just threw themselves off the radar. Here's a look at where players currently stand in their positional battles from a 53-man roster point-of-view.
Offense - 25 players
QB: Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski, Landry Jones
Jones threw the first Steelers offensive touchdown of the year to Derek Moye on a fourth down in his first drive, then spent the rest of the game running for his life. Gradkowski seemed intent on leading his receivers directly into violent collisions. This position seems all but locked down, but it is far perfect.
RB: Le'Veon Bell, Jonathan Dwyer, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Isaac Redman FB: Will Johnson
Bell may not be the starter by the season starts if he cannot escape injury's grasp. Redman was absent after suffering a pinched nerve earlier this week. Dwyer once again led the Steelers in rushing in a game, but lost a fumble on an excellent Redskins defensive play. Baron Batch had a nice scamper on a pass, but also whiffed on another and did little rushing, making him one of the odd men out at the moment with Alvester Alexander and Jeremy Wright.
WR: Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Markus Wheaton, Jerricho Cotchery, Justin Brown, Reggie Dunn
Few people believe the Steelers will keep a sixth receiver in 2013, and fewer believe they will do so for a kick returner, but Dunn has looked like a fearless veteran handling punts. Derek Moye had a good night and could push Dunn for any possible sixth spot, although Moye may be destined for the practice squad with J.D. Woods. Kashif Moore and David Gilreath have become lost in the current discussion.
TE: (Heath Miller), (Matt Spaeth), Jamie McCoy, David Paulson, Michael Palmer
The Steelers are only allowed to designate one player on IR for return. The team was probably hoping for Paulson and McCoy to be enough until Miller could return, but Paulson had a rough night against the Redskins front seven. Palmer may be able to move up in the ranks with his experience, and McCoy could contend for the right to start in Miller's absence. David Johnson is trying to return to this battle. Peter Tuitupou and Nathan Overbay look like they are losing it.
OL: Mike Adams, Marcus Gilbert, Ramon Foster, David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey, Kelvin Beachum, John Malecki, Joe Long
The offensive line was definitely the weak link in Monday night's loss. The starters looked rough, and the rest looked even worse. Whimper proved he can't play guard or tackle. The battle for the eighth spot seems to be down to Joe Long and D'Anthony Batiste, although neither have been consistently good. Mike Farrell and Joe Madsen look like practice squadders at best.
Defense - 25 players
DL: Ziggy Hood, Steve McLendon, Brett Keisel, Cameron Heyward, Al Woods, Alameda Ta'amu
Woods ability to play both tackle and end may prevent the team from keeping three NTs, leaving the battle between Ta'amu, Hebron Fangupo and DE Nicholas Williams for a sixth spot. The team may not have room for a seventh.
LB: LaMarr Woodley, Jarvis Jones, Lawrence Timmons, Larry Foote, Jason Worilds, Adrian Robinson, Marshall McFadden, Brian Rolle, Stevenson Sylvester
Rookie Vince Williams fell to the practice squad after his unit struggled to shut down a Redskins rushing attack which resulted in a 30 yard scoring run. Sylvester, Williams and OLB Chris Carter will battle for the ninth linebacker spot. Alan Baxter seems destined for the practice squad and will be joined by Williams should he not make the roster.
CB: Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen, William Gay, Curtis Brown, Josh Victorian, Terry Hawthorne
Hawthorne may not be a roster lock, but his ability to return kicks could warrant him an inactive roster spot should something befall whoever is named the starter. Isaiah Green continues to have a good preseason, and remains top candidate for practice squad DB.
S: Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Robert Golden, Shamarko Thomas
Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith could become a victim of the numbers, even though Thomas has been playing primarily in the slot in nickel packages. Thomas may have to learn NFL safety on the fly should injury plague this end of the defensive backs bench.
K: Shaun Suisham P: Drew Butler LS: Greg Warren
Punter is the only specialist position still open for competition. This battle could go down to the wire. The team will want the young Butler to win the job because of his youth, but Brian Moorman will win the job if he is clearly better.
GAMEDAY INACTIVES (QB Jones, RB Dwyer, WR J.Brown, OL Long, NT Ta'amu, LB Rolle, CB Hawthorne)
Practice Squad - 8 players
- Alvester Alexander, RB - Did not impress vs Redskins. Wright or free agent could push for spot.
- Derek Moye, WR - Caught first Steelers TD pass of year. Real roster candidate.
- J.D. Woods,WR - Woods has been impressive in camp thus far.
- Mike Golic Jr, OL - Flexible technician needs strength to compete in NFL.
- Nicholas Williams, DE - Williams is competing with Fangupo and Brian Arnfelt for this spot.
- Alan Baxter, OLB - With a bit of polishing, Baxter could become a threat rushing off the edge.
- Vince Williams, ILB - Should land on PS if not roster. Sean Spence will play a role in his future.
- Isaiah Green, CB - Has shown good cover skills and picked off a few practice passes.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Steelers vs. Redskins Postgame stream
- 5 things we learned in the loss to Washington
- Jarvis Jones just making plays
- Tomlin: Officials will be at practice
- Health and stamina of Steelers to be tested over 10 days
- Steelers injury report: Running backs lead the way again
- Shamarko Thomas Steelers Digest Player of the Game
- Winners and Losers from Monday's loss
- Le'Veon Bell has 'mid-foot' injury
- Steelers sloppy in preseason loss to Washington
- Will Johnson injures hip in loss to Redskins
- Le'Veon Bell injures foot in first quarter against Washington