We are less than two weeks away from our season opener against the New England Patriots, and with most of the preseason under our belt, we have more clarity about questions posed back in July in two separate articles on the final 53-man roster.
Today I am revisiting my first five questions.
1) Will the Steelers really keep QB Landry Jones on the roster?
Who could have predicted the furor over our third-string quarterback? With Bruce Gradkowski on PUP and then sidelined for the season with a dislocated finger, discussions over Jones reached a fever pitch. My call to the Steelers at the time was, "Do the right thing, Steelers. Free up that spot for someone else. It's time." Will the Steelers continue to keep three quarterbacks? That is up in the air, but one thing nobody could have predicted in July was the acquisition of Michael Vick.
2) What will happen to DT Cam Thomas?
Like Jones, Thomas is not a beloved member of the Steelers and many have wondered if he will have a spot on the final roster. Some developments since July: Rookie L.T. Walton has been playing well and Clifton Geathers has been released. Thomas also claims he feels more comfortable this year, telling Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "I feel more comfortable. I don't like that it took me a year to get it, but I get it now."
3) Who will be on the roster at CB?
Big news here is that second-round pick Senquez Golson is out with an injured shoulder, so he is out of contention for a spot. I also asked if Kevin Fogg has a chance? Based on how he played so far this preseason, I would say that he definitely does. #30 has been responsible for an interception, many effective tackles, and competent play in an otherwise weak secondary, for which reason the Steelers have him listed third on their depth chart behind William Gay and Antwon Blake.
Also big news since July, the Steelers acquired former Philadelphia Eagles CB Brandon Boykin. He's still listed behind Cortez Allen on the depth chart, but I think his level of play has been better than Allen's.
4) Do any of the Undrafted Rookie Free Agents have a chance?
Niko Davis is fourth on the depth chart at DE, which seems accurate considering L.T. Walton's strong production and the amount of playing time he has seen. UDFA Miles Dieffenbach out of Penn State is second on the depth chart at right guard behind David DeCastro. Cody Wallace will be filling in for Maurkice Pouncey who is out with a broken leg. Before Pouncey's injury, B.J. Finney was third on the depth chart, but with the addition of Legursky and the Steelers likely eyeing other guys to pick up in free agency, Finney's presence on the final roster is not guaranteed.
Also on the offense, Tyler Murphy, the QB/WR hybrid out of Boston College has shown signs of promise this preseason.
5) What is going on at tight end?
Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth are most definitely going to make the final roster. Rookie Jesse James, unfortunately, has been a disappointing with several drops in his first game against the Vikings and lackluster special teams play. James is raw and could very well develop into a star player, but for now he is not going to be a major contributor at tight end. The Steelers will go with their mainstays.
Also, Will Johnson is training under tight ends coach James Daniel, which has helped Johnson improve his blocking skills. He should be a strong contributor this season.