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
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 wayWR
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
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
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. StarksOffense
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).