With one preseason game in the books it’s time to update my roster predictions. Injuries are becoming a factor for some of the young players. If players like Senquez Golson, Sammie Coates, and Keion Adams don’t get healthy soon, their chance at a roster spot will diminish by the day.
Quarterback (3) – Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Josh Dobbs
Breakdown – Nothing has or will change here. Barring Landy Jones’ being more serious than has been reported, this will be the order for the quarterbacks. Dobbs struggled early in his pre-season debut, but recouped nicely.
Running backs (3) – Le’veon Bell, James Conner, Knile Davis
Breakdown – I didn’t believe there would be much to think about with the backs, as I believed these three were pretty much locks. Fitz Toussaint has refused to give up his spot so easy though. Don’t sleep on Terrell Watson either, he’s a big back who’s having an excellent camp.
Fullback (1) – Roosevelt Nix
Breakdown – He’s it, end of story
Tight end (3) – Jesse James, Xavier Grimble, Jake McGee
My last version had Phazahn Odom as the third tight end. Well that prediction hasn’t worked out so well. He’s struggled during camp, and may not even make the practice squad at this point. Most have David Johnson as a lock for this roster. I’m not one of those people. He doesn’t bring much at all to the table besides being a decent blocker. New comer Jake McGee had some great blocks in the Giants game, including one that sprang Watson for a touchdown. He’s now my dark horse third tight end candidate.
Wide receiver (6) – Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Eli Rogers, Justin Hunter, Sammie Coates
Breakdown – This is one of the toughest position groups to figure out. Injuries have further clouded the decision-making here. I’m still banking on Sammie Coates getting healthy and winning the final receiver position. Darius Heyward-Bey failed to gain separation on a go rout versus the Giants second team corner the other night. He may finally be losing a step on that high-end speed of his. Of course, Coates has to get on the field or this won’t be a competition at all. I really like Demarcus Ayers, but there simply isn’t a spot for him right now.
Offensive line (8) – Alejandro Villanueva, David Decastro, Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert, BJ Finney, Chrisn Hubbard, Jerald Hawkins
Breakdown – This group is the exact opposite of the wide receivers. No drama here, and no positions up for grabs. Reports say Jerald Hawkins has struggled thus far in camp, and he did not have a good game against the Giants Friday night. He has no real competition on the roster right now though.
Defensive line (6) – Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Tyson Alualu, LT Walton, Daniel McCullers
Breakdown – The top five are pretty much a done deal here. It seems like Daniel McCullers has fallen out of favor with the Steelers. He’s been running third team defensive line for most of camp. I’m sticking with my guns and putting him on the roster. There simply isn’t an obvious player to take his place.
Inside linebackers (5) – Ryan Shazier, Vince Williams, LJ Fort, Tyler Matakevich, Stevie Johnson
Breakdown – Nothing much has changed with the inside linebackers after the first pre-season game. Fort, Matakevich, and Johnson are all key special teams player who are locks for the roster. There has to be concern over Shazier’s lingering injury. I still think LJ Fort is underrated, and could provide some quality play should Shazier’s injury be more serious than is currently believed to be.
Outside linebackers (5) – Bud Dupree, James Harrison, TJ Watt, Anthony Chickillo, Arthur Moats
Breakdown – I’ve had Keion Adams beating out Moats for the final outside linebacker spot all along, but now I just don’t see it. Injuries have kept Adams sidelined, while Moats had quite a game with three sacks and an interception against the Giants. Adams seems destined for the practice squad unless he can do some big things with the little time he has left.
Corners (6) – Artie Burns, Ross Cockrell, Cam Sutton, William Gay, Mike Hilton, Brian Allen
Breakdown – This is the other group that is very difficult to figure out. I have been writing off William Gay all along, but not any more. Gay has stayed healthy and steady all training camp. He has all but secured his place. Cam Sutton hasn’t been able to get healthy so far this pre-season. It’s very unlikely though that this high a draft pick wouldn’t make the roster. Mike Hilton has gone from camp darling, to almost a lock to make the team. Coaches love him, and he seems to have a knack to make plays. The final spot will come down to rookie Brian Allen versus veteran Coty Sensabaugh. I just don’t see what Sensabaugh brings to this team. Meanwhile, a cornerback with Allen’s physical tools may be difficult to sneak through waivers in order to get him to the practice squad. My hope that Senquez Golson will ever realize his potential has all but gone. He simply can not stay healthy. It would be a small miracle if he were to stay healthy long enough to convince the Steelers he belongs on this roster.
Safeties (4) – Mike Mitchell, Sean Davis, Robert Golden, Jordan Dangerfield
Breakdown – Daimion Stafford was brought in to provide competition. That didn’t work out very well. He has decided not to report which leaves the Steelers with the same four they ended last year with. I still would love to see the team bring in another veteran to replace one of the backups.
Specialists (3) – Chris Boswell, Jordan Berry, Colin
Breakdown – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. This may be the best kicking combination the Steelers have ever had.