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What to Watch For: Key Roster Battles
In our opinion, there are about 7 roster spots that 13 players will be fighting for in this game. The Steelers have to make their cuts on Saturday.
In our opinion, there are roster spots up for grabs in this game. Here's a look at the "bubble" spots, in order of importance:
1. Running Back - Isaac Redman v Frank Summers v Jonathan Dwyer
In our opinion, Redman has earned his place on the team. They even used him at FB a few times last game, showing that they are exploring the option of letting Frank the Tank go. Personally, we feel like Tank needs a year on the practice squad. He made the roster last year and only appeared in 1 game. Dwyer is going to have to show something on special teams to show he belongs on the team and not on the practice squad.
2. Linebacker - Stevenson Sylvester (ILB) v Thaddeus Gibson (OLB) v Patrick Bailey (OLB)
As we said before, this is going to come down to who can make the plays on special teams and show that they deserve to be on the roster. Sylvester is a good athlete that is always around the ball, but his height gives him a high pad level that he might need some more time to work on getting lower.
3. Offensive Line - Tony Hills (T) v Justin Hartwig (C) v Kraig Urbik (G)
Hills has had easily his best camp to date and looks better at Right Tackle, maybe than anyone. Urbik was a 3rd round pick last year and it would be a shame to lose someone that young because of roster numbers. Hartwig is an aged veteran that probably has seen the writing on the wall. Pouncey has supplanted him at Center, and the Steelers seem set on Center-Guard combo Doug Legursky as the #1 backup at Center. Ramon Foster is solidly on the lineup as the #1 backup Tackle and backup LG, where he filled in for Chris Kemoeatu last year.
4. Secondary - Crezdon Butler v Anthony Madison
Madison, a special teams ace, was cut from the team last year. Only after the special teams units took a nosedive did the Steelers bring him back, and voila, improvement! Madison has looked okay on defense this year, but Crezdon Butler's combination of youth, speed, and ball sense (he made a great interception of Tebow last week that he almsot took to the house) might make the Steelers opt to keep him on the roster as the #6 CB rather than Madison. Once again, Butler will have to show something on Special Teams if he wants to make the roster.
5. Defensive Line - Sonny Harris & Doug Worthington v waivers
Our Defensive Line is old. Starters Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton, and Brett Keisel are all over 30, along with #2 backup DE Nick Eason and backup NT Chris Hoke. Last year's first round pick Ziggy Hood becomes the #1 backup this year, and will be a huge boost to the rotation. We drafted Sonny Harris in a late round last year and Doug Worthington in a late round this year to add youth to the unit. However, we don't think the roster numbers are going to work out for either of them to stay on the team. Harris was picked up on waivers last year by Carolina, but came back to join the Steelers after Aaron Smith was injured. Obviously, there is interest in him out there and the Steelers might have to put him on the roster to keep him with the organization -- but is there space for him?
Other guys who might end up on the outside looking in: Charlie Batch (QB), Arnaz Battle (WR)
For Batch, we know what he brings to the table, but the Steelers may opt to only keep 2 QBs. Battle has looked good in camp, but for the Steelers to keep 6 WRs on their roster would be a stretch.
The awesomeness of the instant communication of Twitter is astounding. Even on this short week, we were still able to find a guest for our Behind Enemy Lines segment. This week, our guest is Eric from Cat Crave.