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Author Topic: Getting to the 2011 53-man roster  (Read 1168 times)
Finnegans Wake
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« on: Aug 10, 2011 at 14:46 »

Will update as camp and preseason continues.  Basing opinions off previous FO/Tomlin tendencies and my own stubborn opinions, plus whatever whisps of info I can stir up on the Internets.  Feel free to add.

Offense first.
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« Reply #1 on: Aug 10, 2011 at 14:46 »

QB
Ben Roethliesberger is your starter and the only stone cold lock at QB.  Behind him are three familiar names, but the backup position is shaky past 2011, which means it begs questions now.  Dennis Dixon, Byron Leftwich, and Charlie Batch are all in their final contract years, and only Dixon figures to stick with the team moving forward.  

Dixon is in no-man’s land, however:  he needs the preseason of his 4th year pro to showcase that he’s ready to run an NFL offense consistently and crisply.  He’s shown signs of that, but not enough to warrant confidence as a replacement starter.  If he succeeds, his negotiating stance is better, but the Steelers might also consider trading him and rolling the dice in next year’s draft.  But that would leave them with nothing in the bag.  31-year-old Byron Leftwich and 36-year-old Charlie Batch are not the future, although Leftwich could stick around a few more years if needed.

Batch appears to be odd man out in terms of practice time, and I doubt the Steelers carry 4 QBs.  His only chance to stick seems to be if Dixon might garner trade value, or if Roethlisberger, Dixon, or Lefty get injured.

B. Roethlisberger – LOCK
D. Dixon – 90%
B. Leftwich – 80%
C. Batch – 30%



RB
Rashard Mendenhall, like Roethlisberger, is your starter and only stone cold lock at RB, although Isaac Redman may be close to a lock.  Redman is 26 already, but he’s familiar with the system, and has the frame to take over as feature back if Mendy gets hurt, something none of the other RBs appear capable of.  Versatile change of pace back Mewelde Moore was signed to a 2-year deal, but I wouldn’t consider that a guarantee that he makes the roster: his rushing totals have dipped from 588 to 118 to 99.  

Jonathan Dwyer needs to get his fat ass moving: allegedly, Dwyer showed up at camp in the Bettis weight range, and if he’s not in football shape soon he’ll be replaced by the impressive rookie Baron Batch.  Batch needs to add some heft to his frame, but he appears focused as a runner, receiver, and blocker, and there’s even a chance he could replace not only Dwyer but also Moore.  If we keep 4, bet on Moore and Batch.  If 3, I’m guessing Batch is the man.

Wisconsin’s John Clay is a big Big Ten bruiser who looks like a dark horse to make the 53-man roster, but could be an interesting candidate for the practice squad.  Second-year back James Johnson appears to be a camp body only.

R. Mendenhall – LOCK
I. Redman – 90%
M. Moore – 50%
B. Batch – 45%
J. Dwyer – 5%


WR
With age and injury affecting Dancing With the Stars MVP Hines Ward, speedy second-year receiver Emmanuel Sanders, and annual footnote Limas Sweed, there has been some consideration of bringing in a free agent receiver, an idea I believe the FO will entertain right through camp cuts.  In the meantime, there are four mortal locks to this talented bunch:  Ward, Sanders, the insanely fast Mike Wallace,and Sanders-clone Antonio Brown.  

Shit or get off the pot, Limas.  2010 camp phenom Tyler Grisham has been a favorite early target for Ben, and being small, zippy, and white he draws the gratuitous Wes Welker comparisons.  Still, he looks like the only WR to distinguish himself enough to make the cut.  Arnaz Battle stuck when Antwaan Randle El got cut because, unlike Randle El, he’s not a receiver, he’s a special teams guy.  

Armand Robinson, Terrence McCrae, Adam Mims, and the ginormous Wes Lyons will be fun to watch in the preseason action before they are cut or consigned to the practice squad.

H. Ward – LOCK
M. Wallace – LOCK
E. Sanders – LOCK
A. BROWN – LOCK
A. Battle – 50%
T. Grisham – 30%


TE[/u]
Heath Miller has the talent to be putting up stats along the lines of, say, Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys.  But given the sad state of the OL, Miller will again be called on more as a blocker than receiver to compensate for poor draft prioritization.  And behind Miller there ain’t much, frankly.

David Johnson is essentially a fullback.  He’s working on his receiving skills, and he’s a decent blocker in his own right, but he’s a fullback.  Not that we can call him that, because if we ever had a dedicated fullback, OC Bruce Arians’s head would spin around 360 degrees and project a blended pea and mint emulsion.  Johnson seems likely to stick around as a utility guy, but he’s not a lock.  

The Steelers signed journeyman John Gilmore as a blocking TE, but it seems half-hearted, especially since the FO is still actively wooing more TE castoffs.  The big wild card here is Weslye Saunders, who appears to have the unwanted skill of being able to catch the ball, but needs to show he can block.  If he stones a few LBs in preseason, I think he makes the cut.  Vaughn Charlton and Jamie McCoy appear to be here for demented idiots who memorize the entire preseason roster and then regurgitate the fifth- and sixth-deep TEs as “guys to watch” when in fact they are not, because said idiots are soulless automatons who do nothing but jabber and annoy.

Looks like 3 TEs, with Saunders and Gilmore going for the final spot.

H. Miller – LOCK
D. Johnson – 85%
W. Saunders – 60%
J. Gilmore – 45%


OL[/u]
I just finished looking at the offensive line depth chart, and cleaning the blood off the fork I raked through both eyes afterwards, and there is some good news.  First, the Steelers might still find a bargain stud lineman in free agency.  OK, just kidding.  But they might sign back Flozell Adams or Max Starks for depth.  Or they may just roll with what they have, since OL coach Sean “Kugs” Kugler has proven that he can perform magic with the least bit of talent.  Note: Kugs shot himself in the ass with that one, since the FO decided they would never need to furnish him any talent, ever.  OK, in fairness, they drafted Max Starks Lite, and they have a bunch of roly polys who seem to have been cut from the same mold of big, slow, and big.  And slow.

Maurkice Pouncey is your star, but not your only lock, due to the aforementioned condition of the line.  Second-round pick Marcus Gilbert, a.k.a. Starks Lite, is surely a lock, as is Willie Colon, the paradigm for seemingly every offensive lineman we pick up like cat hair in late rounds and as UDFAs.  Backup LT Jon Scott is probably a lock as well, since he’s now the starter by default, God help us all.  Chris Kemoeatu is a lock because you just know he is.  Versatile C/G Doug Legursky is a damned-near lock.  

The Roly Polys are Ramon Foster, Chris Scott, and Keith Williams, all of whom have the size to play either OG spot or RT, since they are too slow to play LT.  Chris Scott was Foster’s U of Tenn OL teammate and manned LT, and so is presumably the fleetest of the rhinoceri, and he has gotten some good early buzz, as has Williams.  Foster has starts under his belt, however.

OT Tony Hills appears to be the can of Spam in the back of the pantry with the expiration date of 1966.  OT Trevis Turner has good size but will be hard pressed to show he fits.  OT Kyle Jolly looks ready for a second year on the practice squad.  C Colin Miller and OGs John Malecki and Nevin MCCaskill would seem to be warm bodies.

With 6 very nearly sure things and 3 Roly Polys, 9 seems like the winning number.

M. Pouncey – LOCK
W. Colon – LOCK
M. Gilbert – LOCK
J. Scott – LOCK
C. Kemoeatu - Lock
D. Legursky – 95%
R. Foster – 70%
C. Scott – 65%
K. Williams – 55%
T. Hills – 25%
Trevis Turner – 5%

« Last Edit: Aug 10, 2011 at 14:50 by Finnegans Wake » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: Aug 10, 2011 at 15:37 »

DL[/u]
A few short years ago, the DL was getting old and seemed terribly thin.  Now, depth is no issue, and a the line of succession at DE seems ready for a smooth transition.  The locks are Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood, and Cameron Heyward.  Backup NT Chris Hoke, though 35, is a virtual lock, although I believe vertically-challenged Anthony “Fireplug” Gray could be his first serious challenge in a long time.  If nothing else, Gray seems like an excellent practice squad candidate.

Vets Ra’Shon “Sunshine” Harris and Steve McClendon may find themselves on the bubble.  If Hoke sticks and Gray is too good to risk on practice squad waivers, one or both could be leaving.  Heyward and Hood might be all the DE depth the team needs.

Note:  Chris Hoke and Steve McClendon have 1 year on their contracts, and Sunny Harris has 2.

Corbin Bryant, Miguel Chavis, and Jarrett Crittendon are guys I don’t want to spend too much time getting familiar with because they have no shot, no way, no how.  Maybe one of them sticks on the practice squad.

C. Hampton – LOCK
A. Smith – LOCK
B. Keisel – LOCK
E.Z. Hood – LOCK
C. Heyward – LOCK
C. Hoke – 95%
A. Gray – 35%
R. Harris – 25%
S. McClendon – 25%


ILB[/u]
The Steelers were also old and thin at ILB a few years ago, but they may have gotten some pretty decent developmental players.  The locks now are 36-year-old James Farrior, and Lawrence Timmons.  Keyaron Fox wore out his welcome and signed with the Redskins, and 31-year-old Larry Foote has a short career window, but seems likely to stay.

Sylvester Stevenson could make some waves in his second year and should stick as backup.  If he shows well enough to make Foote expendable, it could open the door for a youth movement for some interesting backups.   Fifth rounder Chris Carter has raw speed, and may show too much to hope to whisk to the practice squad.  UDFA Mario Harvey also has speed to burn, but he’s shorter and more likely to wind up on the practice squad.  Second-year guy Mortty Ivy has been cracking some hits at camp and should also receive strong consideration for practice squad. 

This should be a fun bunch to watch, and the question will be do we keep 4 or 5?  Another factor in favor of a potential youth movement?  Larry Foote’s $3.0M cap hit, which is highest for any non-starter and higher than Timmons’s cap hit.  That alone downgrades Foote slightly.

J. Farrior – LOCK
L. Timmons – LOCK
S. Sylvester – 90%
L. Foote – 75%
C. Carter – 50%
M. Ivy – 5%
M. Harvey – 5%


OLB[/u]
James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley are your locks.  Duh.  There is no evidence Jason Worilds is Alonzo Jackson, so he’s a lock-by-default, although in fairness there’s scant evidence he’s not Zo.  Steelers couldn’t squirrel last year’s mid-rounder, Thad Gibson, on the practice squad, and are left without much after Worilds. 

Someone amongst Baraka Atkins, Chris Ellis, and Chris McCoy is going to need to emerge unless the Steelers add a camp cut FA, which seems a real possibility. 

4 seems like the magic number.

J. Harrison – LOCK
L. Woodley – LOCK
J. Worilds – LOCK
B. Atkins – 5%
C. Ellis – 5%
C. McCoy – 5%


S[/u]
When Troy Polamalu isn’t healthy, the entire secondary, and by ripple effect the entire defense, is compromised.  The good news is, the FO did absolutely nothing to bolster safety depth in the draft or in the UDFA scramble, so we’re back in the same boat.  Besides Troy, Ryan Clark is a lock.  Ryan Mundy is Just a Guy (JAG), as is Will Allen and then there are relative Who Gives a Shits (WigAsses) Damon Cromartie-Smith and Brett Greenwood. 

I wish there were better options.

T. Polamalu – LOCK
R. Clark – LOCK
W. Allen – 90%
R. Mundy – 85%


CB[/u]
CB is a position that would appear to be every bit the mess that S is, but at least there is a pipeline of young talent there.  Ike Taylor is the only lock based on actually ability to, you know, start in the NFL, but Bryant McFadden and William Gay are damned-near locks since they’re the birds in the hand.  And they could actually be decent players in nickel and dime packages, if only someone would take the reins opposite Ike.

It’s a lot to expect rookie Curtis Brown will be that guy, but I think his long-term future is very bright.  Second-year guy Crezdon Butler has the physical skills but needs to show he can step up and play, unlike Keenan Lewis, who’s in his third year and still appears to be some ways from ever starting.  Cortez Allen has been showing well in camp and could find a spot on the roster, although I wonder if the best spot would not be S.  Between Brown, Butler, and Allen, there is talent to be developed. 

Donovan Warren got some buzz a year ago among draft gurus until he ran abysmally slow, and he doesn’t seem to have much at this level.  Niles Brinkley will also have a difficult route to the NFL.

Very difficult to project how many CBs stick, but if it’s 6, I really see the big battle being between Lewis and Allen, and Lewis has everything to lose.

I. Taylor – LOCK
B. McFadden – 95%
W. Gay – 95%
C. Brown – 95%
C. Butler – 85%
C. Allen – 50%
K. Lewis – 50%


K/P/LS
Shaun Suisham did well enough last year to likely win the job back, but he’s no lock, and neither are the punters.  The punters being Dan Sepulveda, who seems to rip up a knee every other year, and Jeremy Kapinos, who was OK-fine in relief of Sepulveda.  LS Greg Warren is back, and unless I missed it there’s no other dedicated LS.  Oh, and if Suisham sucks, Swayze Waters is there to save us.

I’d love to get into a 14-page analysis of the kickers and snappers, but I really need to take a piss.

S. Suisham – 95%
D. Sepulveda – 50%
J. Kapinos – 50%

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« Reply #3 on: Aug 10, 2011 at 15:47 »

Kenny Moore replaces Adam Mims in the WR discussion above.  Moore is a 4th year guy out of Wake with nice speed who played 2 seasons with the Panthers and 1 with the Colts and has 59 career receiving yards.  Maybe the light goes on for him; he doesn't crack the odds just yet, however.
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« Reply #4 on: Aug 10, 2011 at 17:53 »

Great stuff as always Finny.  Now, where did that delete button go... ?
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« Reply #5 on: Aug 10, 2011 at 18:09 »

And Baron Batch gets carted off today with a non-contact left knee injury.

Let's hope he didn't rip an ACL or something.
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« Reply #6 on: Aug 11, 2011 at 07:10 »

And Batch confirms on his blogspot that it is indeed an ACL.

Sucks.  I really thought highly of this kid, perhaps more so from a character, high-effort perspective, and his early showing in camp was all the talk.  So, IR, a year to learn the pro system, hope it doesn't hurt his speed too much, maybe a nice 2012 surprise.

Will update RB odds.

 Angry
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« Reply #7 on: Aug 11, 2011 at 11:41 »

RB

Rashard Mendenhall, like Roethlisberger, is your starter and only stone cold lock at RB, although Isaac Redman may be close to a lock.  Redman is 26 already, but he’s familiar with the system, and has the frame to take over as feature back if Mendy gets hurt, something none of the other RBs appear capable of.  Versatile change of pace back Mewelde Moore was signed to a 2-year deal, but I wouldn’t consider that a guarantee that he makes the roster: his rushing totals have dipped from 588 to 118 to 99.  

Jonathan Dwyer needs to get his fat ass moving: allegedly, Dwyer showed up at camp in the Bettis weight range, and if he’s not in football shape soon he’ll be replaced by the impressive rookie Baron Batch.  Batch needs to add some heft to his frame, but he appears focused as a runner, receiver, and blocker, and there’s even a chance he could replace not only Dwyer but also Moore.  If we keep 4, bet on Moore and Batch.  If 3, I’m guessing Batch is the man.

Wisconsin’s John Clay is a big Big Ten bruiser who looks like a dark horse to make the 53-man roster, but could be an interesting candidate for the practice squad.  Second-year back James Johnson appears to be a camp body only.

UPDATE:  Batch's ACL removes most of the drama.  The only remaining questions are whether the Steelers will carry 3 or 4 RBs, and whether they might look for a free agent to fill the 4th spot if Dwyer, Clay, and Johnson don't impress.  Clay will need to show a lot, but I think Dwyer's conditioning is a bad sgn, so I'm guessing 3 RBs, and no FA signings.

R. Mendenhall – LOCK
I. Redman – LOCK
M. Moore –LOCK
B. Batch – IR
J. Dwyer – 15%
J. Clay – 5%
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« Reply #8 on: Aug 11, 2011 at 14:04 »

The Cotchery signing should hurt Grisham's stock more than Battle's:  Grisham showed signs of being a guy who could be WR5 and possibly get work in relief or special packages.  Gets logarithmically tougher as WR6.

Don't think this hurts Battle, as his value is primarily on teams.  However, if they can find, say, a LB who's blowing it up on teams, then maybe they do go 6-deep on WR.
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« Reply #9 on: Aug 12, 2011 at 13:26 »

WR
With age and injury affecting Dancing With the Stars MVP Hines Ward, speedy second-year receiver Emmanuel Sanders, and annual footnote Limas Sweed, there has been some consideration of bringing in a free agent receiver, an idea I believe the FO will entertain right through camp cuts.  In the meantime, there are four mortal locks to this talented bunch:  Ward, Sanders, the insanely fast Mike Wallace,and Sanders-clone Antonio Brown.  

Shit or get off the pot, Limas.  2010 camp phenom Tyler Grisham has been a favorite early target for Ben, and being small, zippy, and white he draws the gratuitous Wes Welker comparisons.  Still, he looks like the only WR to distinguish himself enough to make the cut.  Arnaz Battle stuck when Antwaan Randle El got cut because, unlike Randle El, he’s not a receiver, he’s a special teams guy.  

Armand Robinson, Terrence McCrae, Adam Mims, and the ginormous Wes Lyons will be fun to watch in the preseason action before they are cut or consigned to the practice squad.

UPDATE:  The Jerrico Cotchery signing locks down five WR spots, giving the Steelers their best WR squad in years.  Ward and Cotchery are the reliable vets who can man slot and flanker; Wallace is now a third-year man and while he’s a speed demon at split end, Arians may shuffle the deck a bit with Wallace’s expanded knowledge of the tree route.  Sanders and Brown had outstanding rookie seasons, and could reasonably run any WR route.  

The need for a sixth WR then comes down to keeping a special teams ace, like Battle, or simply keeping a guy whose talents impress, such as Grisham or even Sweed.  It seems unlikely that 6 WRs would have significant playing time, but it’s also possible that the coaches recognize the potential for Sanders to not be ready right away, or for Ward to wear down as the season approaches.  One factor against teams-only guys is that the new kickoff rule may result in more touchbacks, rendering teams less an urgent need.

Sweed’s best value might come as trade bait, either for a late round pick or for a player swap (think another team looking to get some value out of a player otherwise construed as a bust).

H. Ward – LOCK
M. Wallace – LOCK
E. Sanders – LOCK
A. BROWN – LOCK
J. Cotchery - LOCK
T. Grisham – 25%
A. Battle – 15%
L. Sweed – 5%
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« Last Edit: Aug 12, 2011 at 13:28 by Finnegans Wake » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: Aug 17, 2011 at 13:27 »

Some recaps from Adam Gretz at Steelers Lounge, from Dave Bryan at Steelers Depot, and a look at the OL from Byran as well.

8/17/11 Updates:  WR Limas Sweed injured-waived and TE Eugene Bright waived; DB Victor “Macho” Harris signed and CB Kevin Dockery signed.


QB

I’ll admit confusion as to Tomlin’s MO with putting Dixon in for cleanup duty.  I suspected he’d receive the lion’s share of first team reps to better eval value going forward, or to promote trade value.  But it could be that Tomlin is simply rotating all the backups to give them each a chance in preseason with the first team, so Dixon’s horrible performance and seeing demotion may yet need to be taken with a grain of salt.  It would not surprise me to see the next three preseason games go something like this:

Philadelphia (8/12):  Ben (1 series), Batch (rest of first half), Dixon (~3Q), Lefty (~4Q).
Atlanta (8/27):  Ben (1 series or sit out), Dixon (rest of first half), Lefty (~3Q), Batch (~4Q).
@Carolina (9/1):  Ben (out), Dixon (first half), Lefty (second half), Batch (N/A).

That rotation would boost Dixon’s reps with the first team late in the preseason, while giving all the backups their turn.  While I find it impossible to fathom cutting Dixon and going with Lefty and Batch as the Senescent Backup Duo, I admit my previous confidence that Dixon would likely stick is shaken some.  Still, I think this is all part of a longer-term motivational strategy to build Dixon’s workload.  Odds adjusted some.

B. Roethlisberger – LOCK
B. Leftwich – 80%
D. Dixon – 70%
C. Batch – 40%
*Free agent waiver (QB3) – 10%


RB[/u]

The RB competition seems to be all but over, with the injury to Batch, and some ineffective play from Dwyer and Clay.  What’s surprising is that despite batch tearing an ACL, the FO has yet to put him on IR.  Perhaps their belief is that if Batch were injured-waived, another team might see enough value in him to pick him up, add him to the roster, and sit on him for an entire year.  I find this to be dubious logic, and I really like Batch.  If he were such a hot commodity, some team would have drafted him prior to R7.  I still believe Batch will land on IR, but what the FO is doing here is a mystery to me.

The original rankings had Redman as a “near lock.”  Redman is such a lock that Schage is looking for him to do endorsements.  As solid as Mendenhall is becoming as an all-around feature back, if Arians ever comes up for air he would see the incredible potential of letting Redman share some of Mendy’s workload, which would allow Mendy to have a longer career.

With all the ugliness  past those two, the solid and dependable Mewelde Moore is also a lock.  Dwyer looks like he won’t get a second season here unless he really flashes over the next three, but he should have had his shit together as a second year guy.  John Clay reportedly walked out of practice but was cajoled back by coaches: as someone who looks ready to quit, he gets no lovin’ here.

R. Mendenhall – LOCK
I. Redman – LOCK
M. Moore –LOCK
B. Batch – IR (?)
J. Dwyer –5%
J. Clay – No fucking way



WR[/u]

The receiving crew in Washington was part of the problem with the offense:  without Ward, Sanders, or Cotchery, it was basically Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown.  Brown is quickly proving himself to be a complete receiver who can make every catch, which should mollify concerns over Sanders’s foot.

The rest of the WRs were dreck.  With every damned kick going for a touchback, Battle’s stock is diminished, and what was supposed to be a coming out party for Tyler Grisham (He’s the next Wes Welker!!!) was a yawner.  Big Wes Lyons was, well, big, but he can’t catch an elephant turn in a fishnet.  Limas Sweed has apparently gone from being the ace in the hole to the next Bill Belichick reclamation project, as soon as the first round of cuts comes along.

I still see 6 WRs as being possible, but it seems far less likely now.  

H. Ward – LOCK
M. Wallace – LOCK
E. Sanders – LOCK
A. BROWN – LOCK
J. Cotchery - LOCK
T. Grisham – 10%
A. Battle – 10%
L. Sweed – Time to get on with your life’s work.



TE[/u]

Johnson had a bad game, but I think he sticks nominally as a TE, realistically as a FB and blocker.  Expect improvement over the rest of the preseason.  Gilmore was better than expected, so if Saunders can’t capitalize over the rest of the preseason, Gilmore could beat Saunders, vet experience over rookie upside.  Gilmore’s been having a pretty decent camp so far.

I still think Saunders will show something that makes him a guy the coaches won’t want to cut.  With the shortened preseason, it’s understandable that his first showing would be rocky.  For Saunders, it’s a game of beating the clock.  He needs to show something soon.

H. Miller – LOCK
D. Johnson – 85%
J. Gilmore – 60%
W. Saunders – 45%

*Free agent waiver (TE3) – 10%


OL[/u]

Stock down: Chris Scott.  After a year on IR, Scott was reportedly blowing up camp and looked ready to seize the RG starting job.  Scott, like the rest of the Roly Polys, is indeed big and strong, but he’s not adept at picking up stunts and twists.  He did settle in some, and Tomlin gave him a long look, so I think the coaches like his potential.  But he’s not starter material.

Stock up:  I had basically written off Tony Hills, who had shown as much as fellow former Longhorn Limas Sweed to date.  Hills actually may have found a home inside at guard, and was reportedly taking reps with the first team at RG.  His (theoretical) ability to back up LT may give him an edge, since the other OT backups appear to be rookie Marcus Gilbert and second year guy Ramon Foster (RT only).  

Ironically, having Hills show well may hurt rookie Keith Williams more than it does Chris Scott.  Scott still appears to be more interesting to the coaches, who may send Williams to the practice squad.  Scott versus Williams should be the bubble battle here.

Also keep an eye on Kemo.  As the paradigmatic Roly Poly, his mental shortcomings are documented, but if the knee is an issue, coaches could determine that he has one of those mysterious “season-ending knee injuries” a la Darnell Stapleton.  Kemo’s partway into a 5-year deal (through 2013), but there is a lot of flexibility in that if we want to go younger.  Still, I expect Kemo to be, you know, whatever it is he is.

Nine remains my magic number for OL.

M. Pouncey – LOCK
W. Colon – LOCK
M. Gilbert – LOCK
J. Scott – LOCK
C. Kemoeatu - LOCK
D. Legursky – LOCK
R. Foster – 90%
C. Scott – 65%
T. Hills – 55%
K. Williams – 55%
K. Jolly – 5%
*Free agent waiver G/T – 30% - includes F. Adams and M. Starks


Offense

With 3 QB, 3 RB, 5 WR, 3 TE, and 9 OL, that makes 23 offensive roster spots.  It seems awfully likely that 2 more offensive players will be added in.  Will we retain 4 QBs?  Add a FA WR or RB?  Keep 10 OL?  There’s certainly some flexibility here.  

My guess at this point would be that the Steelers might keep 10 OL, given some of the injury issues that plagued last year (and that might mean signing back Starks or Adams), and also picking up a RB4, since that seems to be their preferred depth at that spot.  I’m just not confident of Dwyer yet.

One other possible gambit would be to retain 4 QBs, with the idea of dealing Dixon for a draft pick in case a team needs to bolster depth, or to swap under-performing QBs (i.e., Clausen).
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« Reply #11 on: Aug 17, 2011 at 13:50 »

DL[/u]

I had six as my magic number previously, and I believe that remains so.  I’m moving Hokie from 95% to a lock, because I think Gray is a guy who looks destined for the practice squad.  He and McClendon and Corbin Bryant all showed some decent stuff, but only McClendon has a real chance to stick, and his value is diminished by the rookie ends.  Bryant may be another practice squad addition.

Sunny Harris was injured-waived.  Not a ton of mystery remains.

C. Hampton – LOCK
A. Smith – LOCK
B. Keisel – LOCK
E.Z. Hood – LOCK
C. Heyward – LOCK
C. Hoke – LOCK
S. McClendon – 15%
A. Gray –5%



[/u]ILB[/u]
As expected, the backup ILB duties were primarily handed to Larry Foote and Stevenson Sylvester, who played both mack and buck.  Foote showed the power of the wily vet, while Sylvester got the radio headset, signaling the team’s interest in developing him.

My previous writeup had Chris Carter erroneously listed at ILB: he’s an OLB.  Mortty Ivy got some cleanup work but looks to be odd man out.  I expect the FO to push to get him on the practice squad.  Mario Harvey was MIA.

J. Farrior – LOCK
L. Timmons – LOCK
S. Sylvester – LOCK
L. Foote – LOCK



OLB[/u]

The OLB position makes much more sense with my brainfart of Chris Carter resolved.  Worilds is still not playing instinctively, but I still think he’s too valuable an investment not to make the cut:  expect him to get a lot of early reps from here on out. 

Chris Carter and Chris Ellis got an even number of reps, but I have to think Carter is favored here.  The FO could retain 5 OLBs, but it seems more likely that they would want to add an extra DB.

J. Harrison – LOCK
L. Woodley – LOCK
J. Worilds – LOCK
Chris Carter – 75%
C. Ellis – 25%



S[/u]

With Polamalu and Will Allen sitting out, and Ryan Clark injured after 5 plays, we got to see more of Ryan Mundy, Damon Cromartie-Smith, and Brett Greenwood.  Greenwood remains a dark horse, Mundy allowed 7 completions of 8 targets, and DCS flashed both good and bad (giving up 21 yards of YAC on one completion).

I could see the coaches possibly keeping a bubble DB who could adapt at either CB or S, and my two early contenders would be DCS and Donovan Warren.  But as abysmal as Mundy was at times, and as interesting as DCS might be as a potential fifth, I think it’s awfully unlikely it pans out that way.

Keep an eye on longshot UDFA Brett Greenwood from Iowa.  He may only be practice squad material but he could flash something in the preseason.

T. Polamalu – LOCK
R. Clark – LOCK
W. Allen – 95%
R. Mundy – 85%
D. Cromartie-Smith – 20%



CB[/u]

With Ike out most of the game, and McFadden held out, we got the full horror of William Gay and Keenan Lewis.  Cortez Allen was inactive, while Niles Brinkley and Donovan Warren got some work, and Warren especially seemed to show flashes of potential.  At one time a highly touted CB from Michigan, he came out too early, ran too slow, and went undrafted.  Keenan Lewis shat the bed and Warren may be the biggest beneficiary.

I hope we get to see what Brown can do for us this week, but he’s all but a lock as a high round pick anyway.  I’d keep Lewis and Gay inactive and take a peek at Allen this week, but there’s a lot of questions to our CB depth, and the situation may have only gotten murkier.  Donovan Warren is the wild card, and I suspect the magic number may not be 6 after all, but rather 7, especially if one of DCS or Warren sticks as an all-purpose package back/safety.

Like it or not, even with the new DB arrivals, Gay and McFadden seem to be on the coaches’ good side.  Keenan Lewis has never started, so he’s iffy.  Curtis Brown has reportedly shown some good stuff in camp recently.

I don’t think either Macho Harris or Kevin Dockery will have much chance of making the 53-man unless they play lights-out.  Late camp additions (even vets) rarely clear that hurdle.  But we’ll see.  For now, I’m pooling Harris and Dockery in with the free agent percentages below.

I. Taylor – LOCK
B. McFadden – 95%
W. Gay – 95% (FUCK)
C. Brown – 95%
C. Butler – 90%
C. Allen – 60%
K. Lewis – 50%
Donovan Warren -30%
*Free agent waiver – 35%



Specialists[/u]

Appears to be Suisham and Sepulveda.  Robo-Punter answered all questions of leg strength, and Kapinos appears to be going back to being a guy on the rolodex, but the punter situation is no lock so long as Sepulveda is wearing that brace.

S. Suisham – 95%
D. Sepulveda – 85%
J. Kapinos – 15%


Practice Squad

WR Tyler Grisham
LB Mortty Ivy
NT Anthony Gray
DB Damon Cromartie-Smith
OG Keith Williams
T Kyle Jolly
TE Weslye Saunders
S Brett Greenwood


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« Reply #12 on: Aug 18, 2011 at 11:18 »

8/17/11 Updates:  WR Limas Sweed injured-waived and TE Eugene Bright waived; DB Victor “Macho” Harris signed and CB Kevin Dockery signed.

I recall Dockery playing for Giants.  Don't think he started.  Pretty sure he was nickel.  OK player.
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« Reply #13 on: Aug 22, 2011 at 13:27 »

Trai Essex was in town, picking up some dry cleaning, delivering half-eaten pizzas to Colbert and Co., playing "Guess what?... Chicken butt!" with coach Tomlin, that sort of thing. 

He's also promoting his new book on Amazon titled Things on Trai's Trai:  Trai Essex likes to eat and dammit he wants to get his old job back, a collection of heart-warming tales culled from Google available in two $37 installments.
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« Reply #14 on: Aug 22, 2011 at 14:30 »

OK, haven't updated this since Philly. 

QB (3) [/u]

The order of QB1 and QB2 is clear at this point.  Dennis Dixon remains an enigma, but he’s received the most preseason snaps, whereas Charlie Batch has received all of 4 snaps.  That tells me that while Dixon isn’t getting quality looks, the FO may see Batch as a guy who they don’t have to use a roster spot on, and can call up at any time in the season if need be.  Besides, Dixon as QB3 can be inserted in packages to add legs to a play. 

Every other site will tell you it’s Batch over Dixon.  If we keep 3, as I suspect, those sites are wrong.

B. Roethlisberger – LOCK
B. Leftwich – LOCK
D. Dixon – 80%
C. Batch – 20%



RB (4)[/u]

Moore appears to be a lock of questionable value:  a coach favorite who adds little.  But there’s not much behind him, so that settles it.  We’ve gone with 4 RBs on the roster the last few years, and Dwyer is trying to work his way back into the mix, but it would not surprise me if we go with 3 RBs, or add a waiver wire FA.  In any event, Dwyer leads preseason carries but has the worst YPA of all backs with 2.8.  Some of that is surrounding cast, some not.  John Clay has 5 carries: not enough.

R. Mendenhall – LOCK
I. Redman – LOCK
M. Moore –LOCK
J. Dwyer – 60%
Waiver wire FA – 40%



WR (5)[/u]

Again, the new kickoff rule devalues Arnaz Battle’s value, and Tyler Grisham hasn’t shown enough to warrant a spot.  I’d be very surprised if we went 6 deep, but if we do, look for the guy to be Battle.

H. Ward – LOCK
M. Wallace – LOCK
E. Sanders – LOCK
A. BROWN – LOCK
J. Cotchery – LOCK




TE (3)[/u]

An uninspiring lot.  Johnson looks to make it as the quasi-FB guy.  Gilmore looks to make it because he showed decent vet skills.  Saunders may be a practice squad priority unless he’s lights-out these last two games.  Odds are against him.

H. Miller – LOCK
D. Johnson – 95%
J. Gilmore – 85%
W. Saunders – 10%

*Free agent waiver – 5%



OL (10)[/u]

Upping the OL depth from 9 of previous versions to 10.  We’ve seen too much volatility on the line, so we stock up in quantity what we lack in quality.

Chris Scott has been a disappointment, and I don’t know that Keith Williams is there yet either.  I strongly suspect one of either Max Starks or Trai Essex is re-signed.

M. Pouncey – LOCK
W. Colon – LOCK
M. Gilbert – LOCK
J. Scott – LOCK
C. Kemoeatu - LOCK
D. Legursky – LOCK
R. Foster – 95%
T. Hills – 95%
C. Scott – 60%
K. Williams – 50%
*Free agent waiver G/T – 100% - includes F. Adams, M. Starks, T. Essex.



DL (6)[/u]

I still have Steve McClendon missing the cut with the young ends we’ve added, and Anthony Gray being a priority practice squad candidate.

C. Hampton – LOCK
A. Smith – LOCK
B. Keisel – LOCK
E.Z. Hood – LOCK
C. Heyward – LOCK
C. Hoke – LOCK


ILB (4)[/u]

Appears to be a safe bet, although Mortty Ivy has shown enough to be a practice squad priority.

J. Farrior – LOCK
L. Timmons – LOCK
S. Sylvester – LOCK
L. Foote – LOCK


OLB (4)[/u]

The OLB position makes much more sense with my brainfart of Chris Carter resolved.  Worilds is still not playing instinctively, but I still think he’s too valuable an investment not to make the cut:  expect him to get a lot of early reps from here on out. 

Chris Carter and Chris Ellis got an even number of reps, but I have to think Carter is favored here.  The FO could retain 5 OLBs, but it seems more likely that they would want to add an extra DB.

J. Harrison – LOCK
L. Woodley – LOCK
J. Worilds – LOCK
Chris Carter – 95%
C. Ellis – 5%



S (4)[/u]

Mundy played well enough to likely seal the deal.  Will Allen has spent some time injured but is another Tomlin fave.  DCS is a long shot.

T. Polamalu – LOCK
R. Clark – LOCK
R. Mundy – 95%
W. Allen – 95%
D. Cromartie-Smith – 10%

CB (7)[/u]

The gimpy McFadden and mostly wretched Wimsy Gay are likely sticking on the bird in the hand theory.  Curtis Brown dipped his toes in the action and will hopefully show more, but he’s too high an investment to cut.  Keenan Lewis showed he can run the deep routes, sort of Ike’s skill set.

Cortez Allen will prove you can’t make the team from the tub.  A long look at Donovan Warren showed a guy with skills that fit our system pretty well.  Look for Allen to be a priority practice squad guy, or even wind up on IR.  Possibility of a waiver FA exists, or that one of the recently signed duo of Kevin Dockery and Macho Harris could also earn a spot, but it seems less likely now.  The big surprise here is Warren.

I. Taylor – LOCK
B. McFadden – 95%
W. Gay – 95%
C. Brown – 95%
K. Lewis – 90%
C. Butler – 90%
Donovan Warren -70%
C. Allen – 20%
*Free agent waiver – 10%




Specialists (3)[/u]

S. Suisham – LOCK%
D. Sepulveda – LOCK
Greg Warren - LOCK


Practice Squad (Cool

WR Tyler Grisham
LB Mortty Ivy
NT Anthony Gray
DB Damon Cromartie-Smith
OG Keith Williams
T Kyle Jolly
TE Weslye Saunders
S Brett Greenwood

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