Steelers: P to S

Today Jim Wexell examines P through S of the Pittsburgh Steelers' roster, and has a couple of interesting theories about Ben Roethlisberger and how he'll handle these sea changes.

50. Troy Polamalu, SS – What do you say to the people calling Polamalu overrated? Is it like trying to tell a stranger about rock and roll? I don't know. All I can say is watch him on every snap. I know I'm enjoying the heck out of it.

51. Maurkice Pouncey, C – Give Maurkice a pass for his flare-up with fans on Twitter. I want to say to the angry fans that, hey, he's just a 22-year-old kid. But I know better. I know Maurkice won't change even when he's 51. If you're a fiery person, you're a fiery person, and that's what makes Pouncey the great competitor that he is. Hopefully his recent surgery will fix that ankle for good. Still was an absolute joy to watch him play this season.

52. Isaac Redman, RB – This guy isn't exactly out of nowhere. He only ended up playing tailback at Bowie State because his grades wouldn't let him into Southern Cal. He showed that type of pedigree in the playoffs when he was the Steelers' best player. And this year they'll be getting him for chump change. This exclusive-rights free agent will make $540,000. A Bruce Arians find.

53. Ben Roethlisberger, QB – Boy, the target's being painted on his chest already. Varying degrees of "Ben's not happy" about the exit of Arians are being reported, and the fans will soon sicken of it. Tell you what: How about we let Ben say for himself whether he's happy or unhappy at minicamp? My bet is he'll pay his respects to Arians but won't complain at all about the new guy. Give Roethlisberger some credit. He understands his role on the team and he will use that leadership position to pursue a ring with everything he's got (particularly after watching Brady vs. Eli in the Super Bowl). He'll buy in for that reason alone, but he'll also love proving everyone wrong about his maturity level. I just thought of something else: Because the team pushed out one of his friends, maybe it will push out his rival. At least Hines Ward is a rival for full offensive leadership autonomy. Wouldn't winning a ring with the complete focus on Roethlisberger really spiff up his Hall of Fame resume? Seriously, Roethlisberger's not about to pout this chance away.

54. Emmanuel Sanders, WR – Last game was his best game. At Denver, he caught a team-high 6 passes for a career-high 81 yards and was reportedly the targeted receiver on the fatal sack after the Steelers had moved across midfield with 29 seconds left in regulation. Does Sanders deserve this kind of attention? I haven't been able to see it, but I know the team loves him, particularly his understanding of the game. I'm hoping to see more explosiveness but am willing to give a break to a guy whose offseason – maybe his entire in-season – was ruined by fractures in both feet.

55. Weslye Saunders, TE – The development of this 6-5, 270-pounder could go a long way to solving the Steelers' red-zone problems. Or not. The Steelers still don't know whether Saunders' lack of polish is due to not having played his final year in college, or whether he's just a tease. Still could go either way. This is the offseason of his lifetime.

56. Chris Scott, G-T – At one point CScott was being considered for the starting RG spot. But he failed his test in the preseason, looking so bad that it's a stretch to imagine him being able to swing to guard (as a requirement to being the No. 4 tackle). Will still have practice-squad eligibility next season, but may have fallen behind Jamon Meredith and Travis Turner in the staff's eyes.

57. Jonathan Scott, OT – With Marcus Gilbert admitting the other day that the Steelers intend to move him to left tackle, Willie Colon becomes the right tackle. But with two soft-tissue injuries in two years, the team has to wonder whether Colon's frame can hold that weight. So the Steelers may not be so quick to save $2.2 million by cutting JScott.

58. Daniel Sepulveda, P – As mentioned in the Jeremy Kapinos entry, same age, same cost, better leg, worse injury history. This latest injury was a mere cartilage problem, not the ligament that's tortured him. So is it time for the real, the Ray Guy-like, Sepulveda to show his stuff? I'd be willing to take the chance and give him the roster spot.

59. Aaron Smith, DE – I'm waiting for the notice of Smith's retirement press conference any day now. Not much else can be said about one of the all-time great Pittsburgh Steelers. Class act. Humble. Tough. Family man. And if you're thinking he might make one last run at a healthy season and a more dignified exit, remember the Steelers will save $2.1 million with his retirement. Should happen before March 13.

60. Chad Spann, RB – Don't know much about this guy, other than he led the nation in rushing touchdowns in 2010 while at Northern Illinois. A 5-foot-8 fireplug, Spann bounced around the league and landed on the Steelers' practice squad in the middle of December. Because of injuries he was active for the playoff game and played special teams. I see no reason why he shouldn't suit up this spring.

61. Max Starks, OT – If Starks's offseason rehab wards off suitors in free agency, and if the Steelers cut Jonathan Scott to save $2.2 million, and if they don't draft a tackle in the first round, we could see Starks take the same path to the team that he did last year. If, if, if … I know, I know ... but he does love Pittsburgh. He has relatives and a wife from the area. He also has enough money in the bank to accept the ninth-year veteran's minimum of $825,000 (of which $540,000 counts toward the cap). I can see it happening again.

62. Shaun Suisham, K – His .804 FG percentage these last two seasons with the Steelers is the franchise's third all-time best. Had one of his misses been made, he would be tied with Norm Johnson at .827. Yet, Suisham gets no respect from Steelers fans. He was 3 for 3 in Denver, and I really wanted him to get a chance to kick a 57-yarder at the end. The Steelers needed 5 more yards, but were sacked. I thought Suisham was feeling it, but we'll never know. Cutting him would save the team only $675,000, so I don't see it happening.

63. Stevenson Sylvester, ILB – Sly enters his third season as a fine special-teams player who hasn't shown he can play inside linebacker. He hasn't shown he can't, either, but it's somewhat distressing that he hasn't been learning the buck position. It's a critical playcalling spot and there isn't a youngster learning the ropes in sight. Maybe the tutelage begins this spring for Sylvester.


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