Steelers cut ten

The Pittsburgh Steelers put the finishing touches on their final roster for the 2004 season. Veterans NT Kendrick Clancy and LB Adrian Ross were among the final cuts. Promising youngsters RB Dante Brown, LB Dedrick Roper, and S Russell Stuvaints could land on the 8-man practice squad if they clear waivers.

Rookie UDFA RB Willie Parker was the biggest camp surprise for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2004. Parker flashed big-play ability in a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, catching the eyes of fans and coaches alike.

The Steelers will carry five back into the 2004 season: Parker, Duce Staley, Verron Haynes, Jerome Bettis, and fullback Dan Kreider. Second-year fullback J.T. Wall was released and might earn another season on the practice squad.

A minor surprise came in the form of TE Matt Kranchick. While Kranchick struggled with blocking during the preseason, he showed excellent ability as a receiving threat. The Steelers decided to retain 4 tight ends for the coming season, keeping Kranchick, Jerame Tuman, Jay Riemersma, and Matt Cushing.

On the offensive line, the team stands in stark contrast to where they were a year ago. Going into the 2003 season, injuries decimated the line, which plagued the Steelers the entire year. Pittsburgh felt confident enough about the 2004 unit to trade away OT/OG Todd Fordham to the Carolina Panthers, relying upon Max Starks, Jim Jones, and Barrett Brooks to pick up the slack.

The release of Kendrick Clancy signaled the appreciation of Chris Hoke, one of the best performers during the exhibition games. The defensive line looks to be the strength of the defense with Hoke, Aaron Smith, Kimo Von Oelhoffen, Casey Hampton, Travis Kirschke, and Brett Keisel battling in the trenches.

At linebacker, the Steelers decided to keep just eight, relegating OLB Dedrick Roper to the waiver wire. Roper had a strong camp, but a sloppy preseason finale has Pittsburgh hoping to sign him to the practice squad. James Harrison rounds out the LB corps, which include Alonzo Jackson, Kendrell Bell, Joey Porter, James Farrior, Clark Haggans, Clint Kriewaldt, and Larry Foote.

The main battle at defensive back was between safeties Russell Stuvaints and Ainsley Battles, Pittsburgh going with experience and retaining Battles. The Steelers hedged their bets at DB, keeping 10 players: Chad Scott, Deshea Townsend, Ricardo Colclough, Ike Taylor, Willie Williams, Chidi Iwuoma, Chris Hope, Troy Polamalu, Battles, and Mike Logan.

Other practice squad hopefuls include: LS Drew Caylor, OT Bo Lacy, and DE Eric Taylor.

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