With today’s roster deadline, dreams were ended. Several players were released, and the Steelers will go into opening weekend with the league-maximum 53 players. Players released include:
QB Brendon Kay – The fourth QB usually gets cut. That happened to Kay.
RB Josh Harris – Running backs aren’t terribly difficult to find. Even facing potential suspensions to Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount, the Steelers will let go of the lesser-established backs from training camp.
RB Stephen Houston – In the same boat as Harris. He simply wasn’t needed.
OL Graham Pocic – I do not know who this is.
OL Will Simmons – See above.
OL Guy Whimper – Good riddance. Whimper was brought in to solidify depth at tackle, and did nothing of the sort.
WR Derek Moye – Fan favorite Derek Moye apparently didn’t show enough in camp or in preseason to secure a roster spot. With Martavis Bryant as the expected “obligatory tall guy receiver,” there just wasn’t room for Moye.
WR Lanear Sampson – Not sure who Lanear Sampson is, or what puns are worth making with his name.
TE Rob Blanchflower – It’s odd to see a team cut a draft pick in his rookie year, but the Steelers are apparently satisfied with their depth at tight end. Blanchflower didn’t show much, and he didn’t get a job.
TE Bryce Davis – Did Bruce Davis try to sneak back on to an NFL roster?
TE David Paulson – Another minor surprise, as David Paulson has appeared in the regular season for the Steelers and at least hasn’t made game-losing mistakes. Obviously, the coaching staff believes there is higher upside elsewhere on the roster.
DL Ethan Hemer – No clue.
DL Josh Mauro – This one stings for a lot of us who followed training camp and preseason. Mauro showed us a good bit of ability, and while he isn’t the next Dwight Freeney, he had the look of a solid depth player at a position where the Steelers lack those. Sadly, what Mauro gave us wasn’t enough.
DL Roy Philon – That looks an awful lot like Roy Pilon. Not a good name on defense.
DL Nick Williams – There are probably a hundred Nick Williams I would get this guy confused with, so let’s just move on.
LB Chris Carter – Curiously, another position where the Steelers lack depth sees one of their long-term projects out on the street. Carter has been here for a while and even made a few plays, but will now try to find work elsewhere.
LB Howard Jones – Preseason star and oddly-numbered linebacker (34), HoJo made a play or two in preseason, but didn’t do much else. Jones finds himself on the outside looking in, which is honestly fine, because we already have enough Jones…es.
LB Dan Molls – Probably exists.
DB Isaiah Green – Not good in coverage, and not good enough on special teams to make the roster otherwise.
DB Dayone Nunley – Possibly a fictional character.
DB – Shaquille Richardson – Another draft pick let go. That is not a good sign for the Steelers’ front office, who are depending on the past few drafts paying dividends. Players named Shaq on the roster have also decreased by 100%.
DB Ross Ventrone – Ross Ventrone is fun to watch. That may not be a good thing for a defensive back.
Remember, some of these players could still join the practice squad, so all is not lost. The final roster includes:
QBs: Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski, Landry Jones – Somehow Landry Jones is more worth than Josh Mauro of a roster spot, despite being terrible.
RBs: Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount, Will Johnson – Let’s hope we don’t see any suspensions.
WRs: Antonio Brown, Lance Moore, Markus Wheaton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Justin Brown, Dri Archer, Martavis Bryant – There’s a lot of depth at this position. If a few players play up to their potential, the Steelers could have an explosive offense.
TEs: Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Michael Palmer – Not a very exciting group, but then again, the Steelers don’t need their tight ends to be exciting.
Ts: Marcus Gilbert, Kelvin Beachum, Mike Adams – A reasonable if underwhelming group, Gilbert will need to live up to his contract, Beachum will need to maintain a consistent level of play, and Adams needs to show a recovery from a stab wound last year to be part of the Steelers’ future. Second-round picks are harder to cut.
Gs: David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Chris Hubbard – As with much of the offensive line, this group will need to play slightly better than average to be effective.
Cs: Maurkice Pouncey, Cody Wallace – One guy who played last year and another guy who steps in when the other blows out a knee. The Steelers will probably get solid play out of their centers.
DL: Daniel McCullers, Stephon Tuitt, Cam Thomas, Cameron Heyward, Brett Keisel, Steve McLendon – If this group doesn’t scare you, I’m not sure what you’ve been looking at.
LBs: Ryan Shazier, Sean Spence, Arthur Moats, Terrence Garvin, Jason Worilds, Lawrence Timmons, Jarvis Jones, Vince Williams – There’s a lot of untapped potential here. If Jarvis & Shazier show what made them first round draft picks, this unit should be fine. If they don’t, we’re in for a long season.
S: Troy Polamalu, Mike Mitchell, Robert Golden, Shamarko Thomas, Will Allen – Here’s a unit with established starters and young guys who would ideally be trying to take their spots. With Will Allen bringing up the rear, this should be a stable unit this season.
CB: Ike Taylor, William Gay, Cortez Allen, Antwon Blake, Bryce McCain, B.W. Webb – There’s a steep drop-off in this group. Steep enough that one of the safeties might end up being the nickel defensive back.
Specialists: Shaun Suisham (K), Brad Wing (P), Greg Warren (LS) – Somehow Brad Wing won a competition he played himself out of. There is no sign of Adam Podlesh anywhere.
All in all, the offense looks good and the defense makes me very nervous. There’s a lot of flexibility at the skill positions and I think Todd Haley is going to come up with some fun stuff to score points. On the flip side, I still put my faith in Dick LeBeau, but he has his work cut out for him to keep this year’s defense among the league’s best. If everyone plays up to their potential, it’ll be fine. I’m just not sold on that happening yet.
Watch Dri Archer, though. He is going to be fun.