Projected 53-Man Final Roster After 2 Preseason Games and Other Goodies

With two preseason games in the books, here is the projected 53-man opening-day roster for the Steelers, predicted opening-day inactives, unlucky last 16 not to make the team, lucky last 16 clinging to a roster spot and the projected eight-man practice squad.

This list has slightly changed since the last preseason game – most notably on the offensive line – and will likely do so again over the next two weeks, again with the next two preseason games most important for the offensive line. For now, tell me where you disagree.

53-Man, Opening-Day Roster
** = Roster Lock (95% or better barring major injury or arrest)
* = Roster Near Lock (75-94% barring major injury or arrest)
No stars = Clinging to the 53-man roster at this point of the preseason

QB Byron Leftwich **
QB Dennis Dixon **
RB Reshard Mendenhall **
RB Mewelde Moore **
RB/FB Isaac Redman *
FB/RB Frank Summers *
TE Heath Miller **
TE Matt Spaeth **
TE/FB D.J. Johnson *
WR Hines Ward **
WR Mike Wallace **
WR Antwaan Randle El *
WR Emmanuel Sanders **
WR Arnaz Battle *
WR Antonio Brown *
LT Max Starks **
LG Chris Kemoeatu **
C Maurkice Pouncey **
RG Trai Essex **
RT Flozell Adams *
C/G/FB Doug Legursky *
G/T Ramon Foster *
T Jonathan Scott
T Tony Hills

DE Aaron Smith **
NT Casey Hampton **
DE Brett Keisel **
DE Ziggy Hood **
NT Chris Hoke **
DE Nick Eason
DE Sunny Harris
OLB James Harrison **
OLB LaMarr Woodley **
OLB Jason Worilds **
OLB Thad Gibson **
ILB James Farrior **
ILB Lawrence Timmons **
ILB Larry Foote **
ILB Keyaron Fox *
ILB Stevenson Sylvester
SS Troy Polamalu **
FS Ryan Clark **
S Will Allen **
S Ryan Mundy *
CB Ike Taylor **
CB Bryant McFadden **
CB William Gay *
CB Keenan Lewis **
CB Joe Burnett
CB Crezdon Butler

K Jeff Reed **
P/K Daniel Sepulveda **
SN Greg Warren *

Suspended List: QB Ben Roethlisberger
IR: OT Willie Colon
IR: WR Limas Sweed
IR: OLB Arnold Frazier
PUP: OT Chris Scott

Note: Roethlisberger does not count toward the 53-man roster while on the suspension list.

Note: Batch will likely be cut to trim the list to 53. Thus, the Steelers would not have to pay him a full year’s salary when he is likely to be cut for good (barring injury to another QB) after Roethlisberger returns from suspension following week No. 4. However, Batch may be re-signed quickly after the cut as soon as his full salary does not count toward the entire season. At that point, one of the seven DL (Harris or Eason) or a CB (Butler or Burnett) is most likely to be cut.

Opening Game-Day Inactives if Everyone is Healthy (8): WR Emmanuel Sanders, OT Tony Hills, OT Jonathan Scott, DE Nick Eason, DE Sunny Harris, OLB Jason Worilds, CB Joe Burnett, CB Crezdon Butler. Note: In this projection, the Steelers do not keep or dress an emergency third QB on their roster; instead, Randle El would be the third QB in case of multiple injuries.

Last 16 Released From Camp (in order of how close they are to making team and their position matters): 1. C Justin Hartwig, 2. CB/ST Anthony Madison, 3. OG Kraig Urbik, 4. DE Doug Worthington, 5. QB Charlie Batch, 6. FB/TE Sean McHugh, 7. RET Stefan Logan, 8. RB Jonathan Dwyer, 9. WR Brandon London, 10. LB/ST Renauld Williams 11. RB/FB Dwayne Wright, 12. OG Dorian Brooks, 13. OL Adrian Jones, 14. S Justin Thornton, 15. WR Tyler Grisham, 16. SN Matt Stewart

Last 16 To Make the Team (in order of likelihood of being cut and their position matters): 1. OT Tony Hills, 2. DE Sunny Harris, 3. ILB Stevenson Sylvester, 4. DE Nick Eason, 5. OT Jonathan Scott, 6. CB Crezdon Butler, 7. CB Joe Burnett, 8. WR Antonio Brown, 9. FB/TB Frank Summers, 10. OT Flozell Adams, 11. WR Arnaz Battle, 12. ILB Keyaron Fox, 13. TE/FB David Johnson, 14. RB Isaac Redman, 15. WR Antwaan Randle El, 16. S Ryan Mundy

Practice Squad (8):
RB Jonathan Dwyer or a RB released from another team, WR Brandon London or WR Tyler Grisham, TE Eugene Bright or more likely a QB, TE or FB released from another team, OG/C Dorian Brooks, OT Kyle Jolly or more likely an OT released from another team, DE Doug Worthington, LB Brandon Renkart or more likely a LB or NT released from another team, S Justin Thornton

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  • Anonymous

    I think it’s interesting that you have Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown both making the team (as I think they will and ought to) but have Sanders and not Brown as inactive. I don’t really disagree, but I would expect the third round pick to get the benefit of the doubt over the sixth given that they’ve both played well this preseason. Is the kick returning the difference?

  • Ted

    Intropy, that inactive list is entirely due to Brown likely being the superior return specialist, based on his significant more experience returning kicks and punts in college than Sanders, who mainly just returned punts later in his career.

    Sanders will get his shot to show off return skills this week. But if he is not the return man, Sanders would likely have to be ahead of Randle El as the No. 3 WR to dress, and I do not see that happening on opening day.

  • Mike L

    Nice list, I am surprised that I am not overly concern about any of the people you have being cut. I do have a few different thoughts; I see Urbik(upside) or Hartwig(exp) Foster. I see Worthington over Eason. You do not have to worry about depth behind Smith and Keisel with the emergence of Hood, as we did last year, so that make the veteran expendable. Worthington has upside and the coaches are happy to have been able to get Harris back after expecting him to remain on the practice squad. They will not make the same mistake twice. I could see Logan beating out Summers and there is a chance Mundy gets cut because of the position flexibility of Lewis and Butler being able to play safety.

  • Ted

    Good points, Mike. Urbik seemed like a longshot before the preseason but has played well. Now, it may be too risky to cut a third-round pick. But I can’t see both him and Hartwig making it, since neither can play tackle. One might, though, probably at the expense of Hills or Scott. Foster has not had a great preseason but is versatile and should make it.

    I would love to see Worthington make it over Eason. The rookie looks very athletic and can add more mass. However, the staff cut Harris for Eason last year, and Harris was much more impressive in camp last fall than Worhington was this year.

    Summers is probably battling McHugh for a roster spot. One of the two makes it, since they are the only two who have seen action at FB in preseason this year. It will be interesting to see who gets cut from the over-crowded secondary, but cutting Mundy is a possibility. However, he had a good camp.

  • Randy Steele

    I’m not sure whether or not to take this thought seriously, but right now I’d rather have Anthony Madison than William Gay. Maybe Joe Burnett can play nickel.

    Speaking of coins, you could flip one to decide between Sean McHugh and David Johnson. Johnson’s the better blocker but suffers from Ike-hand-itis.

    Keep Jonathan Scott or Tony (preferably the latter), but not both. And then use that extra roster spot for Hartwig or Urbik (again, preferably the latter).

    And I wish someone would step up and steal Ryan Mundy’s job. He’s the epitome of mediocrity. In other words, he should be playing for the Browns.

  • Ted

    Randy, if Madison continues to play on all the first-team special units and play well (although he outran his responsibility on the big punt return against NY), I will probably put him on the final projected roster, and take off Butler. I would hate to cut a fifth-round pick at CB, who has played well; and I doubt he would slip through to the practice squad. But I can’t see any team keeping 11 DBs. It would be almost ideal if we could stash one of those two young CBs on IR for a year.

    As one of only three CBs with any real experience, I do not think Gay will be cut. He was an effective No. 3 CB two years ago for one of the best defenses in modern NFL history and this offseason was all about putting that same defensive unit back on the field.

    I like McHugh, but all of his reps in preseason have been at fullback, where he is the clearly behind Summers on the pecking order based on participation chart. Very little chance he makes it at this point. Johnson, in contrast, has gotten all of his game reps at TE, so he seems like a near lock as the No. 3 TE.

    They may well keep just one of Scott or HIlls, and then an interior player among Hartwig or Urbik (most likely Hartwig), but that would leave the squad thin at tackle, where they are also less stable at starting right tackle. Thus, right now I am going on a limb and predicting the Hartwig cut, although that projection may change.

    As for Mundy, he played well against the Lions but not the Giants. I am still surprised and disappointed that Colbert did not use a pick on a safety in a 2010 NFL Draft loaded with them. A fifth-round safety seemed like more of a need than a third linebacker in the same draft.

  • DLS

    ARE plays best in the slot, but that’s not where they’re putting him in the 3 WR set. IMO, if you’re playing him out wide, better to put Sanders there. And isn’t Battle also mainly a slot guy? Someone called him a “poor man’s Hines Ward.” Really they should only be carrying 5 WR’s, not the 6 anticipated. We’ve got two veteran receivers, both essentially backing up Ward in the flanker (2WR) and slot (3WR). Maybe they should thinking about cutting ARE or Battle. Saves a veteran salary too.

  • Randy Steele

    Mr. Kian, thank you for your long, thoughtful reply. As always, you reasoning is exceptionally sound, and I’m sure you’re correct about all your points. But I have some time to kill, so here goes…

    I, too, would hate to take a chance and lose Crezdon Butler by waiving him, which is why I’d rather cut William Gay, whose value we well may be over-rating. From the reports I’ve read and heard, he’s not having much of a pre-season.

    Of course, it’s only pre-season, but we’ve seen the limit of his play and he’s not terribly impressive. I’d roll the dice that the Steelers can plug in someone who’s adequate at playing the nickel.

    Hartwig is a decent center, but like his predecessor Sean Mahan, he simply cannot handle those massive 3-4 nose tackles that the Steelers routinely face. Hartwig doesn’t play guard either. Thus, he lacks the versatility to perform as a Tomlin-style back-up. At least Urbik can move easily between two guard positions, or at least he has so far this pre-season.

    I was surprised the Steelers didn’t draft a safety, too, but I can only guess that they didn’t think players who were available to them had enough value.

    That said, it’s always good to remind yourself that you can’t have everything.

  • Castnbash

    were on the same page , here is my best guess at this point to the final 53 …

  • Ted

    Good list. 3 points or differences:

    (1) Ben does not have to count toward the 53-man roster until he returns from suspension;

    (2) I would be shocked if the Steelers only keep 8 DBs. Cutting Mundy, Butler and Madison are all possibilities, but not all of them. Heck, although it sounds absurd, the team could theoretically keep 11 DBs if it deems Madison to valuable for STs, does not want to cut a young CB and feels like it needs four pure safeties;

    (3) McHugh has received all of his action in the preseason as the No. 2 fullback behind Summers, with Johnson getting all of the reps at No. 3 TE. Thus, if McHugh makes it, then it will likely be at FB over Summers, but he has yet to get any reps with the top unit even though I, too, think he is a better lead blocker than Tank.

  • Castnbash

    I can understand your line of thinking on this and it does not come without merit ..I just can not see keeping guys like Mundy around just for the sake of having a DB on the roster Butler probably does make it at least until Ben returns and by that time he would be less likely to be snagged off waivers …..

    Madison is a pretty good ST guy but gets beat like a drum in coverage so for me he is a on the fence or proverbial bubble ….

    I have McHugh listed under TE rather than FB/RB for no other reason than I can’t see B.A. allowing 2 FB on the roster ( he openly admits to not liking FB’s ) so I sneak him in as a TE :)

  • steelerfan

    They’ll keep Urbik as its too early to cut a 3rd round pick. Although he started slow, he has turned it on and is making great progress.

  • Castnbash

    not sure I count turning it on when playing vs other teams 3rd unit full of UDFA’s and late round picks when your a 3rd round 2nd year guy …. but yea at least he is not getting pushed into his own backfield this year

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  • Bigswa

    Original Thread: Link to the Thread:…php?topic=177.0

    It’s that time of year for the Pick the 53 Man Contest. The winner of the contest will receive a Steelers T-Shirt from our friends at Believe Merch ( The winner of the contest will be the person who picks the highest number of rostered players.

    The tiebreaker will be who picks the highest number of practice squad players. If there’s a tie after that, then those tied must call in to the program 206-2024468 and give a reason why they should win. The calls will be posted and listeners will vote and decide who will win.

    Please get you roster selections in by Midnight on September 3rd.

    Post your selections in this thread or email me at

    ** Don’t worry about the August 31st cuts.

  • Castnbash

    final roster IMO will be ………………
    Broken down by group it comes out to

    0-Line 9
    Adams, Flozell
    Essex, Trai
    Foster, Ramon
    Hills, Tony
    Kemoeatu, Chris
    Legursky, Doug
    Pouncey, Maurkice
    Scott, Jonathan
    Starks, Max

    QB 3
    Dixon, Dennis
    Roethlisberger, Ben
    ***Charlie Batch***

    RB 5
    Mendenhall, Rashard
    Summers, Frank
    Redman, Isaac
    Moore, Mewelde

    TE 3
    Spaeth, Matt
    Miller, Heath
    McHugh, Sean

    WR 6
    Wallace, Mike
    Ward, Hines
    Sanders, Emmanuel
    Randle El, Antwaan
    Battle, Arnaz
    Brown, Antonio

    ST 3
    Warren, Greg
    Sepulveda, Dan
    Reed, Jeff

    D-line 7
    Smith, Aaron
    Hoke, Chris
    Hood, Ziggy
    Keisel, Brett
    Harris, Ra’Shon
    Hampton, Casey
    Eason, Nick

    LB 9
    Farrior, James
    Foote, Larry
    Fox, Keyaron
    Gibson, Thaddeus
    Harrison, James
    Sylvester, Stevenson
    Timmons, Lawrence
    Woodley, LaMarr
    Worilds, Jason

    S only 3 with CBs filling depth
    Polamalu, Troy
    Allen, Will
    Clark, Ryan

    CB 5
    Gay, William
    Lewis, Keenan
    McFadden, Bryant
    Taylor, Ike

    • Castnbash

      pretty close ………… LOL