Steelers: T to Z

With the season in the books, it's time to break down the Pittsburgh Steelers' roster. Today we move into the final portion of the 5-part series. Here's T through Z, with the newcomers at the end:

64. Ike Taylor, CB – Try to forget the horrific ending and remember the body of work. The Steelers used more press-man coverage this past season and it worked beautifully – until the very last play. Live by press-… well, you get it. It was another iron-horse effort from Taylor, who'll turn 32 in May. He broke his thumb in the preseason opener, worked at the next practice, underwent surgery the day after that, and started every game for the fifth consecutive season (81 straight regular-season starts). Taylor led the Steelers' defense with 1,065 snaps and 20 passes defensed (runner-up William Gay had 13). Taylor, Gay and Troy Polamalu each had two interceptions to lead the team.

65. Lawrence Timmons, ILB – An up and down season that turned up for the stretch. Because of injuries to both James Harrison and his backup Jason Worilds, Timmons was forced to move to outside linebacker for four games in the middle of the season and made a total of 9 tackles. That was less than his average per game (9.3) the previous season. Timmons didn't record a sack off the edge in those games, but did have one in each of the final two regular-season games. Would the possible departure of LB coach Keith Butler's hurt Timmons? Well, possibly, particularly if Mike Tomlin wants Timmons to begin learning the buck position this spring.

66. Trevis Turner, OT – The massive (6-7, 330) rookie from Abilene Christian spent the season on the practice squad and only made the news when it was learned he and his fiancé have three sets of twins, or more children than any other Steelers player. Apparently Turner has a chance in this league, according to some of the veteran linemen, who think he can develop into a mauling, right-tackle type some day.

67. Mike Wallace, WR – It will be interesting to see if the Steelers get to draft day with Wallace still on their roster. The new CBA did away with the high, first-and-third-round tender. Now, any team can take a swing at the cap-strapped Steelers by overwhelming Wallace with a contract the Steelers can't match. In such a scenario, the Steelers would receive a first-round pick in return. The RFA period begins March 17 and ends April 21. If the Steelers retain Wallace, the 2012 cap cost will be $2.742 million. Ideally, that number would come down upon the signing in the summer of a long-term contract.

68. Hines Ward, WR – The Steelers would save an estimated $3.4 million by releasing Ward, but ownership hopes he'll agree to a Jerome Bettis-type of salary reduction. If he does, Ward will be the No. 4 WR at minicamp.

69. Greg Warren, LS – Did anyone mention his name last season? No? Well, bring him back for an eighth season at $825,000. If the Steelers do happen to find a rookie who can provide that quiet effectiveness, they can save $435,000.

70. LaMarr Woodley, OLB – Woodley wasn't just on a roll when he went down in "open grass" with a hamstring injury, he was bearing down for his third sack of Tom Brady (would've been 8½ in the four-game stretch). Woodley only played in parts of two of the remaining 8 regular-season games, and his NFL record for sacks in seven consecutive playoff games came to an end in Denver, where he played in 40 of the defense's 60 snaps.

71. Al Woods, DE – Signed off the Steelers' 2010 practice squad by Tampa Bay following a two-month stint, Woods came back to the Steelers on Nov. 9 this season, a day after he was cut by Seattle. He was a Sunday inactive through the rest of the season, but it should be noted that the Steelers did sign him over practice-squadder Corbin Bryant.

72. Jason Worilds, OLB – A second-year player, Worilds made his first seven career starts this season as Harrison and then Woodley battled injuries. Worilds showed a burst as a pass-rusher and improved against the run. He finished with 3 sacks and 8 QB hurries as he provided depth where it was surely needed.

73. Tyler Beiler, WR/RS – Perhaps if Tyler Grisham could return kicks he may have been given a better chance with the Steelers. Beiler is one of three return specialists added to the roster since the end of the season. He reportedly ran a 4.38 40 at his pro day after leading Division III in all-purpose yardage at Bridgewater (Va.) in 2010. The 2007 Conestoga Valley High (Lancaster, Pa.) grad went to San Francisco's camp in 2011 but was cut and later spent time with the Jacksonville practice squad.

74. Mike Blanc, DE – Nick Fairley's sidekick at Auburn had a safety in the national championship game and then ran a 4.92 40 for scouts before the draft. But it wasn't enough to get him drafted. He signed with San Diego last year and was cut coming out of camp.

75. David Gilreath, WR/RS – Holds the Big 10 record for kickoff returns and kickoff-return yardage. Was the Wisconsin special teams MVP in 2010 and is said to have good hands and toughness over the middle. Gilreath spent time with the Colts, Rams and Bills practice squads last season.

76. Jerrod Johnson, QB – After breaking Texas A&M passing records as a junior, Johnson underwent offseason shoulder surgery and hasn't been the same since. He lost his job to Ryan Tannehill in the middle of the 2010 season, wasn't drafted, signed with the Philadelphia Eagles before the 2011 season, a season that ended with him on the roster (but not on the field) of the Arena League's Arizona Rattlers. It's worth a spring look to see if the mobile 6-5, 243-pounder has regained his former arm strength.

77. Marshall Mcfadden, LB – Any time the Steelers sign a free agent out of South Carolina State, Donnie Shell's name comes up. Oh, did I do that again? Well McFadden was an inside tackling machine at Shell's old school until a "gruesome" wrist injury cost him his 2009 season and greatly affected his 2010 season. He's another hopeful reclamation project.

78. Walter McFadden, CB – Bryant McFadden told me last season, in an interview about his cousin Patrick Peterson, that Walter is also his cousin and not his brother, as had been widely reported. You may remember Walter's last college game when he returned an interception 102 yards to seal a win over Northwestern in the 2010 Alamo Bowl. He was drafted in the fifth round by Oakland the following April before bouncing to the Jacksonville and Cincinnati practice squads. An agile cover corner with a slight frame, Walter helps thrust the McFaddens past the Batches, Browns, Johnsons and Scotts for the team lead with three roster spots.

79. Antonio Smith, CB – But there are also three Smiths. This All-Big 10 cornerback out of Ohio State has been a part of the Indianapolis, Detroit, San Diego and Cincinnati practice squads since coming out of school in 2007. The 5-8 corner was cut by the Bengals in the spring of 2010.

80. Troy Smith, QB – Just last Christmas Eve the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner was arrested in downtown Cleveland for driving with a suspended license. Smith, who was raised in Cleveland and publicly begged the Browns to draft him, was thusly run out of the city with headlines screaming he had hit bottom. As the Steelers like to tell the Browns, "give us your tired, your poor, your hungry, your huddled quarterbacks who will make it their sole purpose to prove you wrong." At the time, Smith was sitting behind Jeremiah Masoli on the bench of the Omaha Nighthawks in the UFL. Talk about a reclamation project.

81. Kade Weston, DL – A nose tackle at Georgia, the 6-5 Weston was drafted in the seventh round by New England and spent all of 2010 on injured reserve. He was waived at the end of the 2011 camp and later spent a week on the Indianapolis practice squad.

82. Derrick Williams, WR/RS – As a four-year starter at Penn State, Williams was used as a Hines Ward-type of threat. He came out of the backfield, the slot, wide, as a return man, even as a quarterback, and was drafted in the third round by the Detroit Lions in 2009. But in 18 games over two seasons, Williams caught only 9 passes for 82 yards. He was the Lions' full-time kickoff return man in 2009 only and averaged 22.2 yards per return.

83. Jimmy Young, WR – Caught 147 passes at TCU, where he was a three-year starter. He signed with the Bears but was cut coming out of training camp.

(Since the start of the series, Grisham signed with Denver, Chris Hoke retired, and Elisha Joseph was dropped from the roster. Also, thanks to Ian Whetstone, our resident capologist, for the economic data.)


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