Final Steelers’ Projected 53-Man Final Roster and Other Goodies

A tumultuous Pittsburgh Steelers’ offseason and crazy preseason is finally complete. Then, the unfortunate news arrived this morning that quarterback Byron Leftwich was deemed out for an extended period due to a torn MCL and thus probably ticketed to the IR for a full year. That was then quickly refuted with an ESPN report stating Leftwich only has an MCL sprain and could be back for week No. 2.

If it is a tear, Leftwich will likely go on IR. If not, he will likely make the 53-man roster. We will go with the latter scenario for this post, since reporting by the Tribune-Review does not engender much confidence.

Now it is time for the final 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.

Since the Steelers surprised most of their hardcore fans by adding multiple veterans in free agency and through trades, and then keeping 10 draft picks, this has long been the toughest 53-man roster to project in years. It only became more difficult as some lower-round picks thought to be practice-squad candidates shined during the OTAs and preseason games, such as Crezdon Butler and Stevenson Sylvester.

Finally, often overlooked by too many roster prognosticators is the special-teams factor, since the front office and coaching staff made a huge error in cutting some of their best special teams players last year in favor of younger, more talented depth. The Steelers subsequently had one of the worst special-teams units in NFL history, which kept them out of the playoffs.

This fall, many of the players on the fringe (e.g., Anthony Madison, Patrick Bailey, Stefan Logan, Stevenson Sylvester, Arnaz Battle) are considered among the team’s best special-teams players.

I would not be shocked to see any of my last nine released from camp below make the official 53-man roster on Saturday: (1. CB Joe Burnett, 2. G/C Kraig Urbik, 3. RB Jonathan Dwyer, 4. DE Sunny Harris, 5. SN Matt Stewart, 6. C Justin Hartwig, 7. LB Patrick Bailey, 8. DE Doug Worthington, 9. WR Tyler Grisham).

In fact, an hour ago when I had Leftwich slotted for the IR, I had Urbik making the team as a 10th offensive lineman.

Likewise, I would not be surprised to see any of my last eight to make the team end up on the waiver wire: (1. CB/ST Anthony Madison, 2. ILB Stevenson Sylvester, 3. OT Jonathan Scott, 4. FB/TB Frank Summers, 5. SN Greg Warren, 6. WR Arnaz Battle, 7. OT Tony Hills, 8. DE Nick Eason).

The guessing will end tomorrow, although we will still be waiting afterward to see if Pittsburgh looks for an upgrade at running back after other teams make their moves or possibly even sign a third QB.

With Crezdon Butler and Keenan Lewis both exhibiting long-term starting potential at CB this preseason, I felt more comfortable cutting Joe Burnett (who could end up a very good NFL nickleback) to keep special-teams standout Anthony Madison on the roster.

Of course, the Steelers might be able to get a 6th- or 7th-round pick from another team for Burnett before they cut him, which would be ideal if they decide to go that way. Regardless, I hate cutting a talented, instinctual corner like Burnett. But I bet Tomlin regrets cutting Madison more than any other personnel move he made last year and thus does not repeat that action.

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

QB Charlie Batch **
QB Dennis Dixon **
QB Byron Leftwich
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 Antonio Brown
WR Arnaz Battle
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
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 Crezdon Butler
CB/ST Anthony Madison

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

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

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

Note: Redman and Summers are both likely to make the Steelers’ initial 53-man roster. However, one could be released shortly afterward if Pittsburgh elects to sign a running back (likely more experienced) released from another team to its 53-man roster, with Summers the most likely to be cut under this scenario.

Opening Game-Day Inactives (8): QB Byron Leftwich, WR Emmanuel Sanders, OT Tony Hills, G-T Ramon Foster, DE Nick Eason, OLB Jason Worilds, CB Crezdon Butler, CB Keenan Lewis or RB Isaac Redman.

Last 16 Released From Camp (in order of how close they are to making team and their position matters): 1. CB Joe Burnett, 2. G/C Kraig Urbik, 3. RB Jonathan Dwyer, 4. DE Sunny Harris, 5. SN Matt Stewart, 6. C Justin Hartwig, 7. LB Patrick Bailey, 8. DE Doug Worthington, 9. WR Tyler Grisham, 10. RET Stefan Logan, 11. FB/TE Sean McHugh, 12. LB/ST Renauld Williams, 13. S Justin Thornton, 14. RB Justin Vincent, 15. WR Brandon London, 16. DL Scott Paxon

Last 16 To Make the Team (in order of likelihood of being cut and their position matters):
1. CB/ST Anthony Madison, 2. ILB Stevenson Sylvester, 3. OT Jonathan Scott, 4. FB/TB Frank Summers, 5. SN Greg Warren, 6. WR Arnaz Battle, 7. OT Tony Hills, 8. DE Nick Eason, 9. WR Antonio Brown, 10. OLB Thad Gibson, 11. RB Isaac Redman, 12. C/G/FB Doug Legursky, 13. CB Crezdon Butler, 14. LB Keyaron Fox, 15. TE/FB David Johnson, 16. G/T Ramon Foster

Practice Squad (8): RB Jonathan Dwyer or a RB released from another team if Dwyer signs elsewhere, WR Tyler Grisham, TE Eugene Bright or a TE or FB released from another team, OG/C Dorian Brooks or OT Kyle Jolly or an OT released from another team, another OL or a QB released from another team, DE Doug Worthington, DL Sunny Harris or a NT or LB released from another team, S Justin Thornton

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  • Randy Steele

    Excellent work as always, Mr. Kian, but I’d add one point: Frank Summers hasn’t proved that he can run, block, catch, or otherwise play the game at the NFL level. Why waste a roster spot on him?

  • Ted

    Well, Randy, I agree, but he actually has had a better camp than last year when they wasted a roster spot on him and he has received nearly all the reps at FB this fall, a position we used more this preseason than last year.

  • steeler junky

    Good read. I just with the Steelers would have had an O line coach like Kugler during the 09 training camp. Then maybe Urbik would have progressed enough by now to have made the roster.
    2010 seems like it has a chance to be well above an average draft for the Steelers. But only time will tell?
    I am anxious to see if the Steelers bring in any players waived by other teams. I know they don’t often do that very often. Because of their position in the league standings. I suppose they can’t very often get the players they would like.

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