Friday, August 24, 2012

Preseason Week 3 Roster Battles

The Steelers toppled the Colts this week, but there wasn't a whole lot of action in the down-the-depth-chart battles for the last few roster spots. The biggest thing that happened was the activation of Casey Hampton and Rashard Mendenhall from the Physically Unable to Perform list, which will take two more roster spots.

I did move two players - WR David Gilreath and K Daniel Hrapmann into the "On the Bubble" category. Gilreath certainly made an impact on the game against Indy and has moved himself to the top of the conversation for the 5th Wide Receiver. I wouldn't be surprised to see Gilreath get some reps as a kick returner and on special teams to see what he can do there if he is in serious contention for a roster spot. Jerrod Johnson's performance at quarterback moved him up onto the "bubble" but that's more a result of the likelihood of him making the Practice Squad than the Active Roster.

With that in mind, here's a look at how the 53-man roster is shaking out heading into the game in Buffalo.

Locks (26)
B. Roethlisberger (QB), B. Leftwich (QB), R. Mendenhall (RB), I. Redman (RB), M. Wallace (WR), A. Brown (WR), E. Sanders (WR), J. Cotchery (WR), H. Miller (TE), M. Gilbert (OT), M. Starks (OT), M. Adams (OT), W. Colon (OG), D. DeCastro (OG), M. Pouncey (C), B. Keisel (DE), Z. Hood (DE), C. Heyward (DE), C. Hampton (NT), S. McLendon (NT), L. Woodley (OLB), L. Timmons (ILB), L. Foote (ILB), I. Taylor (CB), T. Polamalu (SS), R. Clark (FS)

Probable (18)
C. Batch (QB), J. Dwyer (RB), C. Rainey (RB), L. Pope (TE), R. Foster (OG), T. Essex (OG), D. Legursky (OG), A. Ta'amu (NT), C. Carter (OLB), S. Spence (ILB), S. Sylvester (ILB), K. Lewis (CB), C. Allen (CB), C. Brown (CB), R. Mundy (FS), S. Suisham (K), J. Kapinos (P), G. Warren (LS)

PUP (2)
J. Harrison (OLB), J. Worlids (OLB)

On the Bubble (26)
J. Johnson (QB), B. Batch (RB), W. Johnson (FB), J. Ford (FB), D. Paulson (TE), J. Peelle (TE), D. Gilreath (WR), T. Clemons (WR), M. Maze (WR), D. Williams (WR), K. Beachum (OG), C. Scott (OT), C. Bryant (DE), A. Woods (DE), M. Ivy (ILB), B. Johnson (ILB), A. Robinson (OLB), T. Frederick (CB),  J. Victorian (CB), W. McFadden (CB), W. Allen (SS), D. Cromartie-Smith (S), R. Golden (S), M. Rolle (S),  D. Hrapmann (K), D. Butler (P)

Likely Cuts (19)
J. McCoy (TE), T. Beiler (WR), P. Cox (WR),  J. Stewart (WR), J. Young (WR), J. Malecki (OG), K. Jolly (OT), R. Lee (OG), I. Igbinosun (DE), J. Stoller (DE), M. Blanc (NT), K. Weston (NT), R. Baker (LB), B. Hicks (LB), M. McFadden (LB), A. Freeman (CB), M. Katula (LS)

Suspension (1)
W. Saunders (TE)

Injured Reserve (2)
D. Johnson (TE), J. Clay (RB)

Roster Math: 26 Locks + 18 Probables = 44 of 53 spots filled. It's likely Harrison and Worlids will be reactivated from the PUP list before the season starts, so that brings us up to 46 of 53 spots filled with 7 spots open for competition.

Likely Positions to Fill
FB/H-back/#3 TE - Will Johnson still seems to have the edge here, but Justin Peelle looked good in his debut game. David Paulson is likely slated for the practice squad. This position could be in flux with Weslye Saunders' 4-game suspension.

WR #5 - David Gilreath made a name for himself in the Colts game and will likely see some more reps against Buffalo. I think the Steelers would like to keep Toney Clemons, but he needs to show something here in the last two games. Marquis Maze wasn't overly impressive as a kick returner and Derrick Williams hasn't stood out.

#9 LB - The way these guys are playing, the Steelers might keep 2 of them. Mortty Ivy made the biggest move by making a splash play on Special Teams and blocking a punt. Brandon Johnson has been solid and OLB Adrian Robinson has shown some ability in pass rushing, which could be important if both Harrison and Worlids aren't ready for the start of the season.

#4 Safety - Will Allen seems to pretty much have a lock on this at this point. With Ryan Clark's inability to play in Denver, the Steelers may keep an extra safety to start the season rather than a 5th CB. This leads me to...

#9 DB - Last week this was listed as "#5 CB" but none of the depth corners behind the top 4 have played very well (Josh Victorian's interception aside) and the depth safeties have played very well. Da'mon Cromartie-Smith has been with the team for a few years and rookie Robert Golden always seems to be around the ball. Myron Rolle has yet to make an impact.

Positions that May or May Not Be Filled
#4 DE - With Hampton's reactivation from the PUP list, the Steelers may roll with only 3 DEs with Steve McLendon's flexibility to bump out in the rotation if needed. If they keep a 4th DE, Al Woods seems to have a slight edge on Corbin Bryant.

10th OL - The Steelers can roll with 9 Offensive Linemen, and neither Chris Scott or Kelvin Beachum has looked good in preseason. Beachum made the mistake of wearing #68 and hasn't looked any better than the guy who used to wear #68.

#5 RB - This one all depends on Mendenhall's health. If he's not ready for the start of the season, Baron Batch is the obvious candidate to make the team, but newly signed Jay Ford ran hard and got some big yards against the Colts scrubs in the 4th quarter.

Last 7 In:
S Will Allen
RB Baron Batch
FB/H-Back/TE Will Johnson
LB Brandon Johnson
LB Mortty Ivy
WR David Gilreath
S Da'mon Cromartie-Smith

Practice Squad:
WR Toney Clemons
OLB Adrian Robinson
S Robert Golden
DE Al Woods
TE David Paulson

Next 5 Out:
TE Justin Peelle
FB Jay Ford
DE Corbin Bryant
QB Jerrod Johnson
WR Marquis Maze

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