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Pittsburgh Steelers begin roster cut downs by releasing seven players

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The Pittsburgh Steelers have until 4 p.m. EST to have their roster moved to 53 players. They started the process Friday by releasing 7 players.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL mandates all 32 franchises have their rosters trimmed to 53 players by 4:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, September 5th. In 2014 the Pittsburgh Steelers waited until the last minute to make the announcement of players being released, but in 2015 the team has made 7 preliminary cuts as they continue to move their roster towards the mandated 53.

The players who were released were (per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com): WR Shakim Phillips, OLB Howard Jones, DE Ethan Hemer, CB Kevin Fogg, LB L.J. Fort, WR Jarrod West and DL Mike Thornton.

Some of the players who were released come as a surprise, while most were expected. Howard Jones was in a battle with 6th round pick Anthony Chickillo, but Jones was still considered to be extremely raw in his second year and the team very well could have chosen to go with the more polished Chickillo.

The release of Fogg is somewhat of a surprise as he had a tremendous spring, minicamp and training camp, yet apparently didn't do enough to beat out B.W. Webb for a spot in the team's secondary.

The team is down to 68 players, and the clock is ticking to release the final 15 players to appease the league in terms of the deadline. Stay tuned to BTSC as we will be posting the news of the released players as soon as they become available.