Projected 53-Man Final Roster After 3 Preseason Games and Other Goodies

With three 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.

Many guys on the fringe will have one last chance to impress this Thursday. While this 53-man roster remains the same as my projection after preseason game No. 2, some of the players closest to the fringe have changed slightly both for those most likely to be cut and those closest to being released who are currently projected to make the team. 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. 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
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.

Note: Running backs 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.

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. QB Charlie Batch, 2. CB/ST Anthony Madison, 3. C Justin Hartwig, 4. OG-C Kraig Urbik, 5. RB Jonathan Dwyer, 6. DE Doug Worthington, 7. WR Tyler Grisham, 8. RET Stefan Logan, 9. LB Patrick Bailey, 10. FB/TE Sean McHugh, 11. SN Matt Stewart, 12. LB/ST Renauld Williams, 13. S Justin Thornton, 14. WR Brandon London, 15. RB Justin Vincent, 16. OG Dorian Brooks

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

Practice Squad (8):
RB Jonathan Dwyer or a RB released from another team if Dwyer signs elsewhere, 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, a LB or NT released from another team, S Justin Thornton

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  • Grw1969

    Every choice is tough this year and I am not sure if it is due to players getting better or to the mediocrity of the Steelers past draft picks.
    It is tough but I think the Steelers have to make the decision to keep Urbik over J. Scott. With The new OL coach Kugler; Urbik and Hills seem to be making a steady improvement. Also another tough decision might be keeping Madison over Burnett . DB Butler, I believe has shown more than most rookie DBs in past years.So he needs to be kept. The Special teams coaches opinion may matter there.

  • ryan

    I’m torn on Urbik too. I look forward to JJ’s breakdown of the o-line to see if Essex is as horrible as people have made him out to be this preseason. I just don’t know the roster math that makes it possible for Urbik to stay around.

  • FW

    Why keep Summers? What does he do that Redman and Johnson don’t offer?

    Keep Madison rather, for some prayer of help on STs.

    • Ted

      That’s a decent point, FW, and Summers may well be cut, particularly if they want to pick up another running back. But they have used Summers primarily as the No. 1 FB this preseason, a position we have actually used more this preseason. He has also played better on special teams this preseason than last year.

  • Ted

    I guess it would be close to say now that Adams should be a lock. But since none of his salary is guaranteed if cut, are we ready to say 95% or better? Maybe? Worthington is battling Eason and Harris for 1-2 spots. He looks the most athletic of the three to me. However, Eason is more experienced (something Mitchell and LeBeau like) and Harris is the most versatile, since he would be an emergency NT. Plus, I think the staff feels confident that they can get Worthington back on practice squad, but you never know.

  • Randy Steele

    Tony Hills and Jonathan Scott as back-up tackles? And both on the game-day inactive list? What’s the point? Don’t forget Trai Essex has been positioned as a back-up tackle, too, even if he hasn’t been playing well this pre-season.

    Right now I’m inclined to cut Scott and keep Urbik, if in fact he’s showing the dramatic improvement this pre-season some people are claiming. And after all, Scott is Scott. There is no upside with this guy.

    And I agree with FW. I’m all for figuring out a way to keep Anthony Madison. I’d sure rather have Madison than Frank Summers. The Steelers’ Special Teams still have the great potential to kill us this year.

    • Ted

      You make a good point, Randy. If J. Scott is on the 53-man roster, he should be good enough to dress on gamedays. However, if he is your second best option behind aging, slow Flozell Adams at RT, I think you keep him on the roster even if he is not among your top seven for gamedays.

  • FW

    Good ongoing roster analyses though, Ted. Mostly agree with you.

  • Randy Steele

    Thank you for your prompt reply, Mr. Kian, and again, good job with your selections.

  • TO

    Summers is toast. He has done less than zilch.

  • PitsSteelFan1975

    What happens to DE/NT Al Woods?