Dreaming of a Top-Tier Pittsburgh Steelers’ Practice Squad

The Steelers just made some of their most difficult final cuts in years. Some players, such as special-teams standouts Stefan Logan and Patrick Bailey, as well as talented young corner Joe Burnett, will have to hook up with other teams, since they are not eligible for the Pittsburgh practice squad even if no other squad adds them to their 53-man roster.

But most of the players closest to making the team who were cut can be re-signed to the practice squad, including several with long-term potential to be significant contributors.

However, players cut are free to sign with any other team they choose. Any player released, of course, would latch onto a 53-man roster if offered, but they can also join any other team’s practice squad if desired.

Still, it would be ideal if Pittsburgh could resign FB Frank Summers, WR Tyler Grisham, OG-C Kraig Urbik, DL Sunny Harris and DE Doug Worthington to the eight-player practice squad. All showcased solid potential this preseason and all might have made the Pittsburgh 53-man roster in other years.

It is unlikely the Steelers can retain all five of those, with Summers, Urbik and Harris the most likely to leave. If they did, though, they could fill out the rest of the squad with three players they just released: one of two safeties Justin Thornton or Da’Mon Cromartie Smith, OT Kyle Jolly and TE Eugene Bright.

If Urbik cannot be re-signed, OG-C Dorian Brooks would also be a strong internal candidate for the practice squad. Running back, tight end and nose tackle are positions where Pittsburgh may look elsewhere for practice-squad members, all of whom should be known within the next 48-72 hours.

From the list of cuts, the Steelers may miss Logan and Bailey the most this season. However, Pittsburgh may end up regretting the release of Burnett the most down the road. Anthony Madison, however, was too important to the special teams to keep off the roster, and youngsters Keenan Lewis and Crezdon Butler have more physical upside at corner than Burnett, who looks like at best a serviceable nickleback.

Plus, Burnett never exhibited the skills that made him an exceptional return specialist at Central Florida and his drop of an easy, potential game-clinching interception against Oakland last year kept the Steelers out of the playoffs. That one is hard to forget or forgive, and the Pittsburgh staff evidently did not.

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  • Randy Steele

    In Burnett’s defense, there were a lot of things well beyond his dropped interception that kept the Steelers out of the play-offs last year.

    • Ted

      Randy, true, the list is endless. Fact remains, though, he catches a ball that someone’s visually impaired grandma could catch 9 out 10 times and the Steelers finish 10-6 and go to the playoffs.

  • Alex

    I’m glad they didn’t waive Sylvester, but him AND Bailey together would’ve been beasts on special teams. Wish they could’ve figured him in somewhere.

  • SteelerBill

    Think about this rookie class for a second….Sylvester, Brown Sanders, Butler…..I’m not even counting Pouncey……not bad

    • GlennW

      SteelerBill, unfortunately any excitement over the untested depth of this year’s draft class comes at the expense of the lack of same from last year’s (which all things equal should be further along). Urbik (the biggest disappointment), Burnett, Summers, Harris– all cut in favor of the latest model. At least we hit big with Mike Wallace. But let’s wait until we see some of these guys play for real before getting too worked up which inevitably happens every year at about this time, including last season.

      • Cols714

        I don’t know, last year’s draft seems pretty solid. Hood and Lewis have seemed pretty solid and although Hood is more of a luxury at this point, we’d all be screaming bloody murder if they still didn’t have a DL on the correct side of age 30. Wallace was a home run and even David Johnson is still on the team. That’s a pretty good draft.

        I still think that we as Steelers fans are too down on the draft habits of Mr. Colbert. They keep cranking out contending teams and besides the 2007 draft, the last decade of picks look pretty good.

        • GlennW

          I’m certainly not down on Colbert overall. My point was more that at this time last year most of us were pleased or even excited that the Steelers ostensibly addressed areas of need in DL, OL, and CB, yet some of those players are already gone having barely stepped on the field (and it’s especially not good that a team that features Trai Essex at RG has to cut its second overall pick at OG after one inactive season). Ironically enough, the big hit in Wallace came at a position of perceived strength at the time. Just the way it goes.

          In hindsight, it looks like our good friend DJAR’s observations around the Urbik pick were essentially correct– better to have traded up for quality (in Unger or Wood) than move down to settle for Urbik.

  • Mcdowell

    Summers has been signed to Practice squad according to InsidePittsburghSports.com. They are also reporting Patrick Bailey has been claimed by Titans.

  • Robhenderson

    I hope we sign Jaron Gilbert and get Doug Worthington onto the practice squad. Tyler Grisham I think isnt eligable for the practice squad. I hope he is.

    • Ted

      Rob, Grisham only spent four games on the Steelers’ roster last season, so he is eligible for the Pittsburgh practice squad if the staff wants him.

  • Robhenderson

    They can sign Legarret Blount to the practice squad. He was released by the Titans when they claimed bailey.

  • nator

    loved bailey steelers should keep close eye on him for possble return to team.