The Steelers’ final preseason game ensured a couple of things: coach Mike Tomlin and his staff have some tough decisions to make and several players that are deserving to make the team won’t be on the final roster because there simply isn’t enough room.
Here is my projected 53-man roster with the caveat that it is likely to change. I’ll explain some of my decisions below:
QB: Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon.
RB: Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Mewelde Moore and Jonathan Dwyer.
WR: Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery.
TE: Heath Miller, David Johnson, John Gilmore and Weslye Saunders.
OL: Jonathan Scott, Chris Kemoeatu, Maurkice Pouncey, Doug Legursky, Willie Colon, Tony Hills, Marcus Gilbert, Ramon Foster and Trai Essex.
DL: Brett Keisel, Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith, Ziggy Hood, Cameron Heyward and Chris Hoke.
LB: James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons, James Farrior, LaMarr Woodley, Larry Foote, Jason Worilds, Stevenson Sylvester and Chris Carter.
DB: Ike Taylor, Bryant McFadden, Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, William Gay, Ryan Mundy, Keenan Lewis, Curtis Brown, Crezdon Butler, Will Allen and Cortez Allen.
K: Shaun Suisham
P: Daniel Sepulveda
LS: Greg Warren
— Arnaz Battle is a veteran and had a good preseason. But he wouldn’t see the field as a wide receiver, as loaded as the Steelers are at the position.
And I just don’t see him as a must-keep special-teams player.
— I keep going back and forth between Hoke and Steve McLendon on defensive line and both could make it.
Tomlin likes to dress an extra defensive lineman while the weather is still warm. If the Steelers keep seven on their 53-man roster Hoke and McLendon are locks. If they go with six, Hoke gets the edge because of experience and position flexibility.
Corbin Bryant, while a promising prospect, has practice squad written all over him.
— Mortty Ivy may have played himself onto a 53-man roster Thursday night but it won’t be in Pittsburgh.
There is simply no room for him, unless the Steelers keep a ninth linebacker and they think the Gateway High graduate can really help them on special teams.
Ivy just hasn’t stood out enough in that aspect of the game.
— The Steelers keep seven cornerbacks only because they don’t want to risk losing rookie Cortez Allen by sneaking him onto the practice squad.
I think Crezdon Butler removed himself from the bubble by virtue of his play in final two preseason games. Only way he is in trouble is if Steelers go with six cornerbacks and it comes down to Butler or Allen.
If they keep six cornerback, the Steelers may go with the player that has more long-term potential in Allen. That is how Butler made the team last year over Joe Burnett.
— I have Sepulveda barely holding off Jeremy Kapinos at punter. But the injury factor when it comes to Kapinos may be what separates them in the end, in the eyes of the Steelers.
— Scott Brown