The Moye Bowl

Mike Tomlin pointed out that players have won roster spots in the fourth and final preseason game, which is tonight.

Tonight's game -- preseason game no. 4, a game for the last three spots or so on the roster, a game that has confounded both writer and reader alike lo these many years -- shall henceforth be called "The Derek Moye Bowl."

And not to poke fun at Mr. Moye, a hard-working, talented and tall wide receiver with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But as Mike Tomlin pointed out yesterday at his press conference about last year's fourth preseason game, "Derek Moye was on the outside looking in," Tomlin said. "He did enough in that football game to turn the tide for himself."

It only took Moye two catches for 55 yards in that game to jump up and grab that spot. A few years earlier it was Stefan Logan returning a punt for a touchdown to secure a spot.

"Sometimes you have to study the history of this game and this series specifically to provide information for men so that they can know that they have a legitimate opportunity to help themselves," Tomlin said. "Some of the examples of that opportunity are sitting in the room with them."

So who's the next Derek Moye? It probably won't be Moye himself. But then again, he's done it before.

* Landry Jones -- The organization is with him, and that's large for a guy who hasn't shown the ability to move the team this preseason. But the Steelers used a fourth-round pick on him and that still tags someone as having pedigree for a team that has been abysmal at drafting non-franchise quarterbacks going back to Tee Martin over Tom Brady in 2000. The organization is no doubt starved to prove they're not blind when scouting the most important position in sports, and will give Jones every opportunity to win another spot.

* Justin Brown -- Since I've had Darrius Heyward-Bey making the team for some time, Brown is a guy who merely has to not lose the No. 6 job. They like him in the slot, so they're hoping he doesn't drop the ball on this one. But that's been his history, in spite of a media that's been in love with him since spring practices.

* Lanear Sampson -- One of RGIII's many outstanding receivers at Baylor, Sampson won't go away. The deepest of dark horses, the 5-11, 205-pounder signed a futures contract last January but has only one catch for three yards. However, he returned a kickoff 49 yards this preseason. All he needs is for Moye and Brown to drop some balls and, hey, maybe Sampson can return a punt. That's been a disappointing aspect of rookie Dri Archer's preseason since the Steelers don't want Antonio Brown to have to do that job again.

* Rob Blanchflower -- The seventh-round draft pick was up and down in the spring, and when he was down he was robotically and awkwardly -- stiff is the word for which I'm looking -- down. I remember new UMass coach Mark Whipple telling reporters not to judge the UMass TE harshly because of a sports hernia that plagued his senior season. And, alas, Blanchflower has shown steady improvement throughout camp. The early cutting of Eric Waters might indicate that Blanchflower is practice squad bound, because Waters would provide a fallback should Blanchflower be claimed. But a good night tonight and perhaps another injury to a vet at the position could allow him to finish 53rd.

* Wesley Johnson, Josh Mauro -- Have had these guys on my 53, so they don't really belong in this column. (Edit this line out if you need to.)

* Ethan Hemer -- This undrafted 6-6 DE from Wisconsin lined up first team at rookie minicamp and has never been too far from the coaches' view since. He even had a sack last week. I doubt anything will knock Nick Williams out of the practice squad, for which Williams seems so destined, but if a long, raw DE like Hemer produces another couple of sacks tonight, he could possibly grab the 53rd spot. Very long shot though.

* Howard Jones -- As with Blanchflower, the early cutting of another OLB, Vic So'oto, could mean the Steelers want Jones on the practice squad and are setting up a fallback. Jones hasn't done enough yet to warrant being claimed on waivers, but a big game tonight by the thin pass-rusher could change that and mean the end for Chris Carter.

* Jordan Zumwalt -- I put Zumwalt ahead of the other ILB, Dan Molls, on this list because I believe that if there's a spot open for Molls, they'll give it to Zumwalt, a sixth-round pick, if he stands out tonight. Zumwalt also has the potential to play OLB in the Steelers' new 4-3 base, and if he stands out tonight, he may not clear waivers to land back on the practice squad. Could Molls make it? Well, on a team that hasn't shown much interest in tackling, a tackling machine is usually welcomed.

* Shaquille Richardson -- I have him losing out to Brice McCain for the No. 5 CB spot, but of course that's up for debate if the fifth-round rookie plays well tonight. But it might take a pick or two to slide past a veteran with 4.3 speed.

* Bobby Cowan -- Who? Well, the punter was just cut a few days ago by the St. Louis Rams after averaging 46 gross and 42 net this preseason behind a three-year veteran the Rams were just not going to cut. Cowan is the the all-time leading punter at Idaho and was in the Oakland Raiders' camp as a rookie in 2013. He may have compiled those heady NFL and college numbers simply by playing at home in a dome, but he did play in the WAC, home to several frozen fields. If Brad Wing shanks a couple tonight, a guy like Cowan, or any other punter off the waiver wire, could find himself punting for the Steelers in the opener.


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