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Steelers Training Camp: Final roster could be big on defense, question marks

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They haven't even laced up their shoes for the first practice of training camp, yet, but it's never too early to start predicting who will make the final roster.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback (3): Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski, Tajh Boyd

Landry Jones has had his chance, and he's shown little. If nothing else, Boyd brings an additional dimension of athleticism.

Running Back (4+1*): Le'Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, Dri Archer, Will Johnson (FB), (Josh Harris*)

This one requires some forward thinking. Bell and Williams are locks, but Archer? Well, yes. Harris has practice squad eligibility; Archer does not, at least by my reading of the rules (he was on the 45-man gameday roster for more than 9 games last season). The team spent a high draft pick on Archer, and this is his chance to show something. If not, Harris should be safe on the squad to be called up if needed. He will be on the roster until Bell's suspension ends, anyway.

Wide Receiver (5): Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates, C.J. Goodwin

Goodwin is the only name anyone should be even mildly shocked my on this list. He supplants Darrius Heyward-Bey, whose only real contributions were on special teams coverage last season. He's a good guy who deserves a shot elsewhere; here's hoping he gets it outside the AFC North.

Tight End (3): Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Jesse James

If any of the young tight ends on this roster has a shot at replacing Miller in the future, it's James. The position was Rob Blanchflower's to lose last year, but he just can't stay healthy. Cameron Clear just isn't as well-rounded as James.

Offensive Line (9): Maurkice Pouncey (C), Kelvin Beachum (T), Marcus Gilbert (T), Kevin Whimpey (T), Alejandro Villanueva (T), David DeCastro (G), Ramon Foster (G), Cody Wallace (G), Chris Hubbard (G)

All the starters return, but this is the shocker of the whole roster: no Mike Adams. He's not likely to get another contract anyway, so why not let younger/newer guys have a shot at it? EDIT: Overlooked Pouncey somehow. Needed to adjust the count, so Finney goes to the practice squad.

Defensive Line (6): Cameron Heyward (DE), Stephon Tuitt (DE), Clifton Geathers (DE), L.T. Walton (DE), Steve McLendon (DT), Dan McCullers (DT)

Nothing shocking here. Cam Thomas was so underwhelming in 2014 that he is pushed off the roster by a rookie (Walton), especially considering how solid McCullers looked in limited action last year.

Linebacker (10): Jarvis Jones (OLB), Aurthur Moats (OLB), James Harrison (OLB), Bud Dupree (OLB), Anthony Chickillo (OLB), Lawrence Timmons (ILB), Ryan Shazier (ILB), Vince Williams (ILB), Sean Spence (ILB), Shawn Lemon (OLB/ILB)

Chickillo is going to turn some heads. He's lost some weight, and now he won't likely be used out of position. He's a pass rusher, not a down-lineman. He won't see the field much, but he's a decent emergency option. Lemon was simply too good in the CFL last year, and has a tweener build that can allow him to play inside or outside.

Cornerback (6): William Gay, Cortez Allen, Antwon Blake, Senquez Golson, Doran Grant, B.W. Webb

Nothing shocking here. Both draft picks are good options who should see considerable time from the start. Webb is good enough to hang on as the sixth option, just in case one or both of the rookies struggle to adapt for any length of time.

Safety (4): Mike Mitchell, Shamarko Thomas, Will Allen, Gerod Holliman

The starting strong safety spot is Thomas' to lose, but Will Allen is a more-than-adequate option if Thomas doesn't cut it. Holliman should see some time in nickel and time packages. With his ball skills, you have to find a way to get him on the field.

Special Teams (3): Shaun Suisham (K), Brad Wing (P), Greg Warren (LS)

Nothing new here. Wing may not be spectacular, but he's better than the last few options have been. If he can become more consistent, he could lock down the job for the long term. He doesn't need to boot it 70 yards each time, though he's shown he can. He just can't be shanking it 29 yards in the fourth quarter of a close game.