Projecting the Steelers’ 53-Man Roster and Other Goodies (V 2.0)

There have only been two preseason games, but much has transpired since my initial 2011 Steelers’ roster projections were posted two weeks ago. The Steelers arguably now have the deepest receiving corps in the NFL after adding sure-handed veteran Jericho Cotchery to be the team’s No. 5 wideout. Cotchery’s belated signing was partly related to Limas Sweed’s abbreviated training camp.

Despite returning from a torn Achilles and his history of under-achieving, the talented Sweed was still a slight favorite to make the team’s 53-man roster, because of his size and ability to get open downfield. But the former second-round pick was released after three weeks that were highlighted by a confluence of all the negatives that marked his disappointing Pittsburgh career: injuries, psychological frailty, fake hubris exhibited to media, questionable work ethic, and hands similar to Ike Taylor.

Ultra-quick, seventh-round pick Baron Batch looked like the steal of the Steelers’ 2011 draft class and appeared to have an excellent chance of being the team’s third-down back before suffering a season-ending ACL tear. That elevated veteran Mewelde Moore to a roster lock and made Jonathan Dwyer a favorite for the team’s fourth and final running back spot, although there is still an outside shot the Steelers could sign a player off waivers who they believe is better than Dwyer.

Below is version 2.0 of the Steelers’ roster projections. Several spots are still up in the air, but making cuts will be nowhere near as hard for the Steelers’ front office and coaching staff as last year when every position group had a tough roster battle ongoing from what was a much deeper training camp roster.

Take a look below at my projected last few players to make the 53-man roster or be cut this fall, and then compare those lists to last year when the Steelers’ brass would have had a more difficult time trimming down to a 60-man roster. This Pittsburgh team is nowhere near as deep from 45-60, although its two-deep depth chart looks strong everywhere except for offensive tackle, tight end and cornerback.

Do not be surprised to see Pittsburgh delve into free agency, trades or players released by other squads for potential upgrades at No. 2 tight end, a veteran reserve offensive tackle and possibly a fourth running back.

Free agent Reggie Kelly is now an Atlanta Falcon, but finding another veteran blocker to be the No. 2 tight end off waivers or by trading a late-round draft pick is an option if veteran free-agent signee John Gilmore continues to be unimpressive over the final two preseason games.

Flozell Adams unfortunately will likely not return unless there is an injury to Willie Colon at right tackle, because Adams does not want to be a reserve and the front office was not astute enough to try Colon at guard.

But assuming he can lose some weight, the Steelers would be wise to re-sign Max Starks to a veteran’s minimum contract to be the reserve, swing tackle on gamedays, and possibly push Jonathan Scott for the left tackle job if/when Starks is fully in shape. In that scenario, the Steelers could cut rookie guard Keith Williams, who they would likely still be able to re-sign to the practice squad.

Moreover, adding Starks would allow the Steelers to work Tony Hills predominately at right guard, where he could easily end up starting, because he offers much more athleticism than Ramon Foster and Doug Legursky, and is better in pass protection than Chris Scott.

After never seeing regular-season action over his first two professional campaigns, Hills entered the 2010 training camp as a roster long shot but ended up making the team due to strong performances in preseason games.

However, he did not play well in his four actual game appearances in 2011, and once again looked like less than a 50-50 bet to make this year’s squad. That said, his odds were clearly better than they were entering the 2010 preseason, so long as the Steelers did not bring back another veteran tackle such as Adams, Starks or Trai Essex.

However, showing he is once again a gamer (at least in the preseason), Hills was one of the only Pittsburgh offensive linemen who played well in the preseason opener against the Redskins, and then looked both very good as the starting right guard and somewhat serviceable as a reserve left tackle against the Eagles on Thursday.

Regardless if he is starting at right guard or is one of the team’s two back-up offensive linemen on the dress roster, Hills is the only player on the current roster likely to be active on opening day who could theoretically play left tackle besides journeyman starter Jonathan Scott, offering more proof of why Starks should be re-signed.

Rookie second-round pick Marcus Gilbert is not ready for the dress roster and I question if he has enough quickness to ever be a starting left tackle in the NFL, since most teams projected him as a right tackle or guard prospect before the 2011 NFL Draft. But hopefully he will be the team’s starting left tackle by 2013, maybe even 2012.

Most NFL franchises have better depth at running back than Pittsburgh in camp right now. A team like Detroit is likely to cut Kevin Smith and/or Maurice Morris. I would rather have either of those two and a few more soon-to-be unemployed NFL players over the one-dimensional Dwyer, who has now shown up overweight to both of his NFL training camps, showing his lack of professionalism or self-discipline. But yet the powerful Dwyer plays well in actual preseason games, has lost weight since camp opened, and is likely to stick again, in large part due to the Batch injury.

Finally, this version is based on the hopeful assumption that the Steelers find a way to stow rookie cornerback Cortez Allen on injured reserve for the season. NFL teams used to regularly stash rookies on IR rather than release them. However, that is rare now, because those players’ contracts count against the team’s salary cap.

Pittsburgh does have enough cap space to hide a player with a cheap contract like Allen, who is currently one of 10 cornerbacks legitimately battling for 5-6 roster spots at that position. It is possible – although unlikely – that the Steelers could keep seven cornerbacks on its 53-man roster, which would be overkill at the position and limit the coaching staff’s gameday options.

Historically, the franchise kept nine defensive backs (eight in some years), although the Steelers began carrying 10 defensive backs a couple of years ago, because Anthony Madison was essentially a special-teams player and the coaching staff is still trying to develop another Ike Taylor from its collection of mid-round cornerbacks, in large part because the front office continues to not address the team’s only defensive weakness until after the first two rounds of the draft.

Fans currently projecting Pittsburgh to carry eight cornerbacks on its 53-man roster are unrealistic. Please find me one team in NFL history that has ever kept eight pure cornerbacks on its opening-day roster. Good luck on that quest. If it did happen – and I would bet a lot of money it never has – it was only because that squad had multiple corners injured for the first game who were not placed on IR or the PUP list, with that team releasing extra cornerbacks when others returned from injury.

Of those 10 roster candidates, however, Allen is the least ready to contribute this fall. He was drafted as a long-term project after starting just two years at the Citadel and only one year of high school football. While the Steelers have cut several fourth-round picks in recent years (e.g., Fred Gibson, Orien Harris, Ryan McBean), all of those players were multi-year starters at major-college programs. Thus, players like Harris and Gibson had a much lower ceiling than Allen, who could be out of the league in two years or become a legitimate NFL starting cornerback down the road, possessing both above-average size and speed, physical traits now rarely found in fourth-round cornerbacks.

Therefore, it would be imprudent to cut the raw Allen in his rookie year. But it would also be unwise and against Mike Tomlin’s philosophy to use one of the team’s 53 roster spots on someone who probably would not rank among the top 70 in camp who could contribute this fall.

And the Steelers need all their cornerbacks to be ready, because Bryant McFadden – who is a below-average starting cornerback when healthy – is absolutely horrible when he tries to play injured as shown over his last two seasons with the Steelers and Cardinals. On that note, McFadden has been bothered throughout much of camp with the same hamstring problem that seemingly would never fully heal late last season, causing him to miss portions of several games that he dressed for and be even more vulnerable in man-coverage when he did try to play.

If several of the Steelers’ young cornerbacks were both healthy and having strong camps, McFadden would be a prime candidate to be cut. In the frugal 2011 NFL landscape with its decreased salary cap, McFadden is not worth close to the $2.5 million Pittsburgh would save on its 2011 salary cap by releasing him.

Unfortunately, though, that seems unlikely, because none of the young Pittsburgh cornerbacks appear even ready to overtake William Gay for the nickel back role, making Tom Brady a happy man and New England a strong favorite for the Super Bowl unless Dick LeBeau – who against any other team is the best defensive coordinator in the NFL – gets lucky again in not having to face his version of kryptonite in the playoffs.

Allen has also been sidelined with a hamstring strain, which is the type of injury that lingers. This roster projection assumes the rookie is justifiably placed on the season-ending IR due to his major hamstring injury (wink-wink) and the Steelers then keep six more-refined cornerbacks on their 2011 roster.

Taylor is entrenched as the Steelers’ only quality NFL cornerback. LeBeau is unlikely to cut veterans who know his system like McFadden or Gay, and rookie third-round pick Curtis Brown is a roster lock, who I am still hopeful could supplant Gay as the nickel back at some point later this season.

Thus, a healthy Allen would essentially be battling third-year player Keenan Lewis (who was bad in preseason game No. 1 but played well in No. 2), second-year nickel back prospect Crezdon Butler (who has been less impressive in this camp than last year), possible free-agent find Donovan Warren (star of the Eagles’ game), recently-signed veteran Kevin Dockery, and hybrid FS/CB Macho Harris for a maximum of two roster spots. Based on the preseason thus far, Lewis would have the upper-hand on that mostly unimpressive but lengthy list of candidates.

Projected 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
(These stars assume no more roster additions or season-ending injuries)

QB Ben Roethlisber **
QB Byron Leftwich *
QB Charlie Batch
RB Reshard Mendenhall **
RB Isaac Redman **
RB Mewelde Moore **
RB Jonathan Dwyer
TE Heath Miller **
TE/FB D.J. Johnson **
TE John Gilmore
WR Mike Wallace **
WR Hines Ward **
WR Emmanuel Sanders **
WR Antonio Brown **
WR Jerricho Cotchery **
WR Arnaz Battle
LT Jonathan Scott **
LG Chris Kemoeatu **
C Maurkice Pouncey **
RG Ramon Foster **
RT Willie Colon **
C/G Doug Legursky **
T/G Tony Hills *
G/RT Chris Scott *
T Marcus Gilbert **
G Keith Williams

DE Aaron Smith **
NT Casey Hampton **
DE Brett Keisel **
DE Ziggy Hood **
NT Chris Hoke *
DE Cameron Hewayrd **
OLB James Harrison **
OLB LaMarr Woodley **
OLB Jason Worilds **
OLB Chris Carter *
ILB James Farrior **
ILB Lawrence Timmons **
ILB Larry Foote *
ILB Stevenson Sylvester **
SS Troy Polamalu **
FS Ryan Clark **
S Ryan Mundy **
S Will Allen *
CB Ike Taylor **
CB Bryant McFadden *
CB William Gay *
CB Curtis Brown **
CB Keenan Lewis
CB Crezdon Butler

K Shaun Suisham **
P Daniel Sepulveda **
SN Greg Warren **

IR: RB Baron Batch
IR: CB Cortez Allen (projected)

New to the Projected 53-Man Roster Since V. 1.0 Was Posted Two Weeks Ago: RB Jonathan Dwyer, WR Jericho Cotchery, OL Tony Hills, CB Keenan Lewis

Gone From the Projected 53-Man Roster Since V. 1.0 Was Posted Two Weeks Ago: RB Baron Batch (IR), WR Limas Sweed (already cut), NT/DE Steve McLendon, CB Cortez Allen (projected to be stored on IR for a year)

Opening Game-Day Inactives (7): RB Jonathan Dwyer, OG/RT Chris Scott, OT Marcus Gilbert, OG Keith Williams, OLB Chris Carter, CB Keenan Lewis, CB Crezdon Butler

Last 14 Released From Camp (in order of how close they are to making team and their position matters): 1. QB Dennis Dixon (Steelers would love to trade him for a conditional 7th-round pick), 2. NT/DE Steve McLendon, 3. WR Tyler Grisham, 4. TE Weslye Saunders, 5. S Damon Cromartie-Smith, 6. CB Kevin Dockery, 7. TE/HB Jamie McCoy, 8. CB Donovan Warren, 9. RB James Johnson, 10. LB Baraka Atkins, 11. K Swayze Waters, 12. FS/CB Macho Harris, 13. OLB Chris Ellis, 14. OT Kyle Jolly

Last 14 To Make the Team (in order of likelihood of being cut and their position matters): 1. QB Charlie Batch, 2. CB Crezdon Butler, 3. CB Keenan Lewis, 4. OG Keith Williams, 5. TE John Gilmore, 6. WR Arnaz Battle, 7. CB Cortez Allen (Makes IR in this projection), 8. RB Jonathan Dwyer, 9. OT Tony Hills, 10. CB William Gay, 11. LB Larry Foote, 12. NT Chris Hoke, 13. S Will Allen, 14. CB Bryant McFadden

Practice Squad (8): 1. TE Weslye Saunders, 2. WR Wes Lyons or Armand Robinson or Tyler Grisham**, 3. OT Kyle Jolly, 4. DE Corbin Bryant, 5. NT Anthony Gray, 6. ILB Mario Harvey or OLB Chris Ellis, 7. S Damon Cromartie-Smith, 8. CB Donovan Warren (Keeping seven CBs out of 61 total players makes little sense, but this guy has been too impressive thus far to cut entirely)

** I am not sure if Grisham has any more practice squad eligibility left with Pittsburgh, since he spent the majority of the past two seasons on the Steelers’ practice squad. The rules are confusing. I know the Steelers’ active roster dropped below 53 players on a couple of occasions during the last two years, although I do not think that spot was vacant for more than a few hours. Why would it be? So what is the time limit? Do you have to release and sign someone simultaneously or is there some sort of window? This would determine if Grisham can be on the practice squad for a third consecutive season.

Grisham is again having another great camp, and is clearly a better receiver right now than Wes Lyons or Armand Robinson. However, even if Grisham is eligible, I would give the rookies a slight edge for the practice squad, because both offer more potential long-term upside and the size of the 6-foot-8 Lyons is very intriguing.

In contrast, Grisham offers nothing of value that is not already abundant on the Steelers’ roster, and if the front office thought he was good enough to be a solid NFL contributor right now, then they would not have signed Cotchery.

The only two justifications for keeping Grisham on the practice squad are that he would more seamlessly be able to transition to the 53-man roster and potentially in to the possible receiver rotation in the event of an injury (although is that even needed if the Steelers’ keep six veteran, proven wide outs on its initial roster?); and because the staff might believe Grisham could replace Cotchery or Ward (if he retires) on the roster for 2012.

Grisham, though, is already 24, and thus it makes little sense to a keep a guy of that age on the practice squad at the team’s deepest position group, because he may be the team’s No. 5 or No. 6 receiver in 2012. And that assumes that (1) the Steelers even keep six receivers next year, (2) either Ward retires or Cotchery does not re-sign, and (3) the Steelers do not take a receiver in April, 2012, which would mark only the second span of two consecutive NFL drafts when Pittsburgh did not take at least one wide out in the past 26 years.

This entry was posted in 2011 steelers, Cool Stuff, Free Agency, Front Office, Offensive Line. Bookmark the permalink.
  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UR6KXGPFIFYZSVJNCXCJNHDQJQ Bob Costas

    “front office was not astute enough to try Colon at guard.”

    Psst.  I think your arrogance is showing…

    • bus36

      If it really is Dwyer vs Clay it seems they’ve already made their choice. Clay only gets to run once a game….

  • Anonymous

    The only point where I disagree with your projection (and your last 14 list indicates it’s a close thing) is that I think Dixon is ahead of Batch right now, and I don’t think any other team is going to knock on that door.

    Some possibilities: I think it’s possible Cortez Allen makes the 53 over Crezdon Butler or Arnaz Battle. I also think Swayze Waters (or a random FA) has a chance since appendicitis recovery to the point of professional football level physical capability in 20 days is fast. If that happens I think Suisham gets cut with a wink and a nudge and replaces Waters as soon as he’s healthy.

    Other stuff:
    I doubt that Colon’s position is because “the front office was not astute enough to try Colon at guard.” He’s had two excellent preseason games at right tackle, and Adams doesn’t come free of charge. I suspect the office has well considered their options and has made the determinations based on where they think they can get the best offensive line for the cap space value.

    Wasn’t McFadden’s lingering injury last year abdominal rather than hamstring?

    I don’t think Gilbert taking over the left guard spot would be to bad an outcome. Kemoeatu isn’t very good, and his contract did not include a lot of guaranteed money. Left tackle is more difficult to find and a more glaring need at the moment, so that would be preferable.

    I think Lewis had a decent first preseason game. He allowed a high catch percentage but had a good yards per attempt when his man was targeted.

    Can a player put on IR practice?

    • ted

      Great responses, Inrtopy. The Batch-Dixon decision could go either way and it probably matters little.

      But let’s look at the comparison. If Ben and Leftwich both go down in one game, I would rather have Batch enter than Dixon, because of his grasp of the offense, gameday experience and maturity.

      If Ben and Leftwich are both out for multiple games or the rest of the season, I would rather have Dixon because his potential for growth and excellence is higher, and the offense would be less limited because of his legs. But Batch is by far the better pure passer. Against bad opponents, I would rather have Batch. Against good defenses with time to prepare and garner more experience, I would take Dixon.

      Dixon has another advantage in that he could be used on a couple of running plays each game, because third QBs are now eligible to play on a 46-man game-day roster. However, Batch is a huge assest in the locker-room, as a mentor to our franchise QB and best offensive player who has had psychological maturity issues galore in the past, and in QBs meeting room for game preparation.

      In contrast, Dixon was late to sign his restricted contract, because he is delusional enough to believe some other team would give him a chance to start right now when it is doubtful he is among the league’s top 70 QBs and there is a slight chance he may not be picked up quickly on another team’s 53-man roster if we release him. Moreover, he is gone after this year as an UFA. No doubt about it. In contrast, Batch will stick around for however long we will have him as the No. 3 QB. Where else is he going to go? Pittsburgh is home and this franchise is his family.

      Finally, never under-estimate the Batch-luck factor. Every time we thnk this guy will not make the team, he somehow finds a way to stick around.

      If we cannot store him on the IR, then I, too, think Allen does make the squad, probably over Butler at this point. But if we had to play one of those two this fall in the nickel or dime, Butler is a better option, which is why Allen should essentially get a redshirt. When you are on IR, you cannot partake in contact practices, but can work out, stand around and learn, and even go through some walkthroughs.

      I could see Gilbert at guard, but my guess is it would be RG, since we like to pull our left guards often. Thus, you need a road grader at LG and someone who can get down low on the move to take on a LB. Gilbert’s best long-term position is probably RT, but we are intent upon playing a guy there with modern-day center-size who might be an all-pro at RG.

      The notion that Lewis’ perofrmance against the Redskins and their subpar QBs and lousy WR corps in a preeason game was okay sadly reveals how accepting many Steeler fans have become of having such bad No. 2 and No. 3 CBs. Heck, everyone thought McFadden played okay last year after he gave up 13 catches for 111 yards against Roddy White. Considering the opposition and the game result that probably was one of his best games last year, particularly when the second-half of his season is included.

       

      • Callouswhisper

        With new K/O rule Battle will struggle to make roster. And Morty Ivy who has had a great camp and decent showing in games is a lock for PS or perhaps outside at roster. As for Grisham…meh he has done nothing in games. I have an odd feeling Steelers make a surprise cut, candidates are Foster, Gay and Moore. As good as Redman has been why keep Moore? I feel if worse comes to worse they can snag a vet if Red or Mendy get hurt and use Dwyer as emergency back. Foster man was he bad v Iggles he made a good night for the oline nearly turn sour. He gave up both sacks and generally did a Darnell Stapleton impression. Gay is truly hovering on bubble. Reports from multiple camp sources have indicated Gay getting lots of reps, aka coaches taking a closer look.

        • ted

          Good points. Yes, I agree that Battle could easily be cut. But the new k/o rule would also seemingly really hurt the chances of longshot LBs like Ivy (who I thought about for the PS, but he does not have the long-term upside of Harvey, although he may still make it, particularly bc Harvey has been hurt). I don’t think anyone would be that surprised if Gay was cut. However, he is actually a good No. 4 corner in the rare times that we use the dime, which we used to employ a lot more but now LeBeau justifiably wants to keep TImmons on the field. Another advantage for Gay is his experience as a gunner on punt coverage, where he started over Battle last year, and remember that Madison is now gone.

          I think Foster could be out if we sign another lineman, but not with the current roster. I agree with you, though, he is a menial talent. Sadly, though, he was easily the best of the three players who received multiple starts for us at RG last year. I also thought Moore had a great chance of being cut before the Batch injury. But not now, he is clearly the third best all-around back we have, because Dwyer is one-dimensional. The coaches love him, too, although I don’t think he is one of the 96 best TBs in the NFL. Thad said, he is good in pass pro, plays special teams, catches the ball well, and picks up a few yards through instincts on delayed draws. I, too, expect Redman to get most of his PT this year, but Moore still makes the roster in my opinion.

      • Cols714

        Ted
        You really have to get over this Colon to guard BS you keep spouting. Colon looked good as a RT in the past and has looked good there so far this year. Stop banging this drum. Yeesh.

        Also, just because you read some draft sites that say Gilbert is a RT, does not make it so. He may be good enough to be a LT, we just don’t know yet.

        Also and too, Worilds has looked just fine. If we lose an OLB, we are going to be glad that they spent a 2nd round pick on the guy. I know I know, you would’ve taken a RT based on the extensive youtube scouting that you do, but we’ve heard this enough already.

        Other than that, I like reading these posts and generally think you are correct about the roster formation. Just please stop repeating yourself over and over again because I’m sick of writing these replies.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NXON22FQSDCCSA2WHZIRTHQWTU Greig

    What makes Arnez Battle so amazing at special teams, that he needs a roster spot? I think the team has a number of young DB’s that they want to develop, which would mean carrying more DB’s than usual. Why not get rid of Battle, and keep a guy like Cortez Allen, or Cromartie-Smith to play special teams instead, and continue to coach them up at DB?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NXON22FQSDCCSA2WHZIRTHQWTU Greig

    What makes Arnez Battle so amazing at special teams, that he needs a roster spot? I think the team has a number of young DB’s that they want to develop, which would mean carrying more DB’s than usual. Why not get rid of Battle, and keep a guy like Cortez Allen, or Cromartie-Smith to play special teams instead, and continue to coach them up at DB?

    • ted

       That is definitely a possibility, because special-teams standouts will be less needed due to the kickoff rules and staff has to feel great about their top five WRs.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NXON22FQSDCCSA2WHZIRTHQWTU Greig

    Larry Foote is a lock. He’s the only veteran back up at the ILB position, which should easily buy him another season. Sly and Worilds look to be developing well, but Keith Butler has stated on numerous occasions that both still need to show more to earn the confidence of the coaching staff.

    If anything, the team will carry five ILB’s like they did in 2010. If anything happens to Harrison or Woodley, Timmons is their replacement. This would leave Foote or Sly to step into a starting role, leaving the team with only one back up ILB. 

    • ted

      I don’t see any way they keep five ILBs at the expense of cutting a DB or OL th is year. Who would be the fifth ILB? But I agree that Foote is a near-lock. The only reason I had him with one star is because he is a ridiculously over-paid for a back-up 1-2-down run-stopper. And by that, I don’t mean he only plays 1-2 downs per series, but instead that is what he would play in the event of an injury.

      If Timmons would still move outside and start if Harrison or Woodley went down like last year than Worilds was an awful second-round pick at a non-position of need. I like having Foote around, but Sylvester looks better to me right now. But you are correct, when it is remotely close, Steeler defensive coaches always prefer veterans.

  • Will

    they just signed dixon to a new contract…

    • ted

      Dixon signed his one-year, low-round tender as a RFA, which he was required to do as a free agent. But he showed up to camp late, because he wanted to be traded to some team, where he though he could start, even though no team would start him.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Marczi/8833102 Matthew Marczi

    Not surprising to read yet another excessively pessimistic take on the Steelers’ secondary. I do not see how Bryant McFadden is a below average #2 CB. In fact I think he is basically the definition of an average #2 CB. And faulting him for his play suffering while he is injured? Isn’t that what injuries do to people? I also find it more likely for the team to carry 7 DL or 7 CBs than for them to carry 10 OL. I believe Chris Scott or Keith Williams will be on the practice squad.

    • ted

      Matt: As far as starting CBs go, you would be hard-pressed to name five teams that would remotely consider trading either of their starters for BMac. He cannot play man-coverage on most NFL receivers at all. He is a good, reliable tackler and benefits by having the best defensive front seven in the NFL in front of him, Troy at safety, and Ike blanketing the opposing team’s best WR in man, press coverage most of the time. But yet BMac still plays soft and regularly gets picked on. He has horrendous hips. He played one year on a mediocre defense for the Cardinals and ranked as one of the worst CBs in the NFL. Praising him for being a starter on our Super Bowl championship team three years ago (when he was much bettter) is like praising Luke Walton for being a starter on a Lakers’ world championship team.

      If anything, I am being very kind in calling him a below-average starting NFL cornerback. Of course, he cannot be blamed for playing so poorly when injured. It is not his fault that we were so bad behind him at corner that he had to try to play when he was nowhere near healthy. But since he is injured again, then that is even more reason not to carry a CB on the active roster in Allen who cannot play this year.

      You may well be right about the seven DL and/or 7 CBs, especially if we do not hide Allen on IR and we still have guys banged up for opening day at CB. I initially had us keeping seven DL since we like McLendon, and this has to be Hoke’s last year, and possibly Smith’s last year as well. But we have kept six d-linemen in most recent years, although I, too, would prefer seven.

      I seriously doubt Chris Scott is cut. We would risk losing him to another team. Heck, he was slated to start at RG before the first preseason game, and JJ is still very high on him as a potential future starter before the end of this season. However, like I said in the article, Williams could be easily cut, and he would almost assuredly be cut if we add a veteran tackle. In that case, then Chris Scott could be cut as well, although I would still bet slighly against it.

    • ted

       One more thing, I am not pessimistic at all on the Steelers’ secondary. Polamalu is the most important player on the team and one of the best safeties of all time. Clark is a cerebral, centerfielder who is an excellent counterpart to Troy. His lack of athleticism hurts us against some good passing teams with deep WR corps (like Green Bay), but those games are rare. He is also an excellent tackler. Mundy has emerged as a nice No. 3 safety and Allen has starting experience in the NFL.

      Thankfully, we also have back a legit No. 1 NFL cornerback in Taylor, who I thought absolutely deserved to be selected for the Pro Bowl over Champ Bailey last year. I am just pessimistic and realistic about our piss-poor No. 2 and No. 3 CBs, which is criticism you hear from almost every single NFL national analyst and the vast majority of Steelers experts who are not homers oblivious to the obvious. Let’s just hope Curtis Brown and maybe another young corner can develop this year, bc we will never, ever beat Tom Brady with BMac and Gay as our No. 2 and No. 3 corners.

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      I didn’t think Chris Scott was eligible for the practice squad. Turns out he was on the 53-man roster for 8 games last year. If he’d been on for one more game, he wouldn’t be eligible. But he is.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Most reports said Cotchery’s was a one-year deal, but Dulac said it was multi-year: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11224/1166860-66.stm. In the past, most of our veteran free agent deals have been for more than one year, but maybe we made an exception for Cotchery.

    • ted

       ELSM, Yeah, we still have not got the details, but the P-G erroneously reported Gay was a multi-year deal when everyone else (national and local) was correct in reporting a 1-year deal. Considering the market, I could not see why the Steelers or especially Cotchery would want a multi-year deal. My money is on “most reports.” Please remember that this a completely different type of market than any in the history of unrestricted free agency, where there were loads of players and very little cap space for the majority of teams. There are still a lot of worthy roster players unsigned, because teams (like the Steelers) are tight against the cap.

  • Joe Rod

    Where does John Clay fit in at running back??? Jonathon Dwyer before Clay?? Come on,Pittsburgh wouldn’t have wasted time picking him up if they thought he didn’t fit in their scheme of smashmouth football!! Moore has been there awhile,and I’m not totally sold on him either. He’s more of a backfield receiver than a legitimate running threat. Plus the O line is suspect and they need a power back that can create his own yards like Bettis used to!! Clays 40 time sucked,but maybe with some development he can be a steal like Willie Parker was a few years back!!

    • Anonymous

      Jonathan Dwyer has shown more than John Clay in preseason games, and I think he probably has a higher upside. I agree about MeMo, but I don’t think they’ll cut him just yet. Clay has a shot at the practice squad, but then if you look at next year he still has to compete with Dwyer and Baron Batch and whomever else they draft or pickup in free agency next offseason. Maybe Moore is gone then, opening up a little room, but that’s still stiff competition. If you want to see some smashmouth football!!!! what’s wrong with Isaac Redman? That’s how he plays, and he’s shown he can do it on the biggest stage.

    • ted

      Joe, thanks for the post. I had Clay on the practice squad for the initial roster projection. However, all reports have been that he has not bee impressive in camp. Dwyer is faster, quicker and more talented. I am afraid that Clay is a poor man’s Great Dayne, and just another of a long line of big, slow Wisconsin RBs who ran behind great offensive lines and faced slow-motion defenses in a once-great conference that has become a running joke during bowl season, with the exception of Penn State. Most Wisconsin power backs could never have played in the SEC and are not cut out for the NFL. Clay could still sneak on to the practice squad, but that is less likely if the Steelers carry 4 TBs on the 53-man roster, with three of them power backs. And despite excellent college numbers, Clay was an undrafted free-agent signing, meaning that he was not highly thought of by any front offices in the NFL.

    • ted

      Joe, thanks for the post. I had Clay on the practice squad for the initial roster projection. However, all reports have been that he has not bee impressive in camp. Dwyer is faster, quicker and more talented. I am afraid that Clay is a poor man’s Great Dayne, and just another of a long line of big, slow Wisconsin RBs who ran behind great offensive lines and faced slow-motion defenses in a once-great conference that has become a running joke during bowl season, with the exception of Penn State. Most Wisconsin power backs could never have played in the SEC and are not cut out for the NFL. Clay could still sneak on to the practice squad, but that is less likely if the Steelers carry 4 TBs on the 53-man roster, with three of them power backs. And despite excellent college numbers, Clay was an undrafted free-agent signing, meaning that he was not highly thought of by any front offices in the NFL.

  • Joe Rod

    Where does John Clay fit in at running back??? Jonathon Dwyer before Clay?? Come on,Pittsburgh wouldn’t have wasted time picking him up if they thought he didn’t fit in their scheme of smashmouth football!! Moore has been there awhile,and I’m not totally sold on him either. He’s more of a backfield receiver than a legitimate running threat. Plus the O line is suspect and they need a power back that can create his own yards like Bettis used to!! Clays 40 time sucked,but maybe with some development he can be a steal like Willie Parker was a few years back!!