Getting down to 53 won't be as difficult as the moves they still need to make

Jim Wexell believes the difficulty in finishing the Steelers' 2016 roster will be the additions

I know, these are the worst columns, and I apologize, but by giving my analysis of how I see the Pittsburgh Steelers' 53-man roster I can also talk about, gulp, last night's "game."

Yes, the Steelers ended the preseason 1-3 with a mind-numbingly dull 18-6 loss at Carolina.

We knew it was coming, and I hope my previews prepared you, but it was made even more difficult to watch knowing that the quarterback had to be cut for the guy they just claimed on waivers and couldn't get there in time.

And that leads me into ...

QUARTERBACKS (3) -- Landry Jones finally comes out of preseason looking like a serviceable backup, and No. 3, Zach Mettenberger, wins a job without a day of practice with the team. Bryn Renner couldn't move the team but it wasn't his fault because the line was putrid and his receivers didn't give him much help. He did stand strong in the pocket and deliver some surprising throws, but he needed to do the impossible and wow us after only a week of work. He didn't.

RUNNING BACKS (4) -- There might be a guy on the waiver wire to provide more punch than either Fitzgerald Toussaint or Daryl Richardson but for now those two will continue to compete for the job left open once the lead dog returns from suspension. DeAngelo Williams and fullback Rosie Nix are the starting backfield.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5) -- This one's so much easier than I thought it would be. Demarcus Ayers and Cobi Hamilton have practice squad written all over them. Marcus Tucker never really rose above "tough special-teams guy." He needed to make a great catch or do something eye-popping. Eli Rogers joins the top four and that's no surprise to anyone. Perhaps Hamilton has an outside chance should Markus Wheaton's injury be worse than anticipated.

TIGHT ENDS (2) -- This is the roster's major weakness coming out of the offseason so I expect an addition off the waiver wire to replace Xavier Grimble. His up-and-down preseason ended on a down, so if anyone's available they'll make the move to join Jesse James and David Johnson in the meeting room. I still respect Grimble's potential, but I expect he'll have to continue to develop on the practice squad.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9) -- Another disappointment as the second-team line, after dominating the Detroit Lions (what horrors await THAT DL?) in practice and the first preseason game, wilted down the preseason stretch. However, there's room on this roster to keep B.J. Finney and Chris Hubbard along with the seven veterans.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6) -- Lavon Hooks and Johnny Maxey seemed to be practice-squad bound until the furious finish by Caushaud Lyons last night. I wouldn't trust a guy who finishes preseason so strong in the second half of the fourth preseason game, so I'll stick with the six we've all expected: the five top-tier guys and L.T. Walton.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (6) -- All three of the borderline guys playing for the two bones again played so well that I'm going to add a bone and keep all three and worry about this 24 hours later (or cut an O-lineman) after I add my tight end off the wire. Tyler Matakevich is my lock of the three, and I kept going back and forth between L.J. Fort and Stevie Johnson. Actually, the punt that bounced off Johnson's leg for a fumble made me realize this veteran will work his rear end off on special teams, whether the return man gives him a holler to get out the way or not.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (5) -- Expect concussed rookie Travis Feeney to clear waivers and make it back to the practice squad, and hope Anthony Chickillo's foot isn't injured badly because he played well last night. Chickillo is No. 5 behind the big four.

CORNERBACKS (5) -- The sideline report was that Doran Grant got chewed out by multiple coaches last night for, I assume, his soft coverage in front of both the Carolina receivers and safety Jordan Dangerfield, and that's both good and bad. It's good in that they like Grant enough to get angry this late, and bad that he's still blowing coverages as he seemingly did throughout preseason. This is another spot to expect a waiver-wire claim, except that decent cornerbacks don't just come floating down the pike all that often. So with that in mind, let's keep the starters, the first-round pick, and Senquez Golson, and add Montell Garner into the mix. Then re-claim Grant after Golson is placed on IR and put Al-Hajj Shabazz on the practice squad.

SAFETIES (5) -- The two starters, the high draft pick and the best gunner on the team, Shamarko Thomas, have had it made, but let's add Dangerfield, too. Mike Tomlin will say it's a body of work, but in my opinion Dangerfield made it last night by keeping that defense together and with his usual thumpy-ness. After spending the previous two seasons on the practice squad, Dangerfield can be the shining example Tomlin points to when he sends guys to the practice squad.

SPECIALISTS (3) -- I saw another writer say they may pick up a punter, but I like "Mate" and don't see that on the horizon at all.


Steel City Insider Top Stories