With very few jobs open heading into training camp, they also had very few roster spots available. So trimming the roster to 65 before Aug. 27, and then 53 players a week later, won't be a problem.
Here's one writer's take on who should make it:
Quarterbacks: (3) An easy decision. Kordell Stewart, Tommy Maddox, and Charlie Batch give the Steelers three good options at this position. Stewart is No. 1 and Maddox will be No. 2 on game days because he doubles as the holder for placekicker Todd Peterson. But if Stewart were to be injured long-term, Batch would likely surpass Maddox as the starter.
Running backs: (5) Jerome Bettis, Amos Zereoue, Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala, and Dan Kreider are givens. It comes down to rookie Verron Haynes, a fifth-round draft pick, and R.J. Bowers. Both are better runners than blockers, but this is a blocking position since the Steelers need a backup to Kreider at fullback. Haynes gets the spot because the Steelers have more invested in him than they do Bowers.
Wide receivers: (6) This is a tough decision because the Steelers have two very promising rookies, second-round draft choice Antwaan Randle El and sixth-round pick Lee Mays. They'd like to keep both and somebody would likely grab Mays off of their practice squad. The Steelers keep Plaxico Burress, Hines Ward, Randle El, Mays, and veteran Terance Mathis. Troy Edwards is more trouble than he's worth. They should cut or trade him and keep special teams ace Lenzie Jackson as the sixth wideout.
Offensive linemen: (9) Center Jeff Hartings, tackles Wayne Gandy and Marvel Smith, and guard Alan Faneca are already starters. The other guard spot will be manned by Oliver Ross or top-draft pick Kendall Simmons. Chukky Okobi is the backup center and also plays guard, while guard Keydrick Vincent and tackle Mathias Nkwenti get the other two spots. Rookie free agent Josh Burr, all 6-foot-9, 320-pounds of him, could get a spot on the practice squad.
Tight ends: (3) This is actually a tough call to make. The team has five NFL veterans fighting for three spots. Starter Mark Bruener is the league's best blocking tight end, but the team would like a receiving threat behind him. Jerame Tuman was supposed to be that when the team drafted him in 1999, but has just seven career catches. He hasn't helped himself by missing more than a week of camp with an abdominal injury. John Allred is a good receiving tight end, but hasn't played since 2000 because of a severe knee injury and is not a good blocker. Matt Cushing and Cory Geason have both spent parts of the last few seasons on the Steelers' roster. In a tough call, I'd keep Bruener, Allred, and Cushing. Cushing makes it because he has served as a fullback in a pinch before.
Defensive line: (6) The last two spots here are very much up for grabs. Nose tackle Casey Hampton, and defensive ends Aaron Smith and Kimo von Oelhoffen have three spots locked up. Rodney Bailey is the team's top backup end and has one spot sewn up. Backup nose tackles Kendrick Clancy and Chris Hoke entered camp even. Clancy is better at shooting gaps, while Hoke does a better job holding the point of attack, which is what the nose tackle in the 3-4 defense is supposed to do. In a tough call, I'd keep Clancy over Hoke. The final end position comes down to a battle between third-year man Chris Combs, Brett Keisel, a seventh-round draft choice, and rookie Barry Holleyman, a surprise out of Oklahoma who is in camp as a free agent. I'd keep Combs and put Keisel on the practice squad, hoping he can add another 20 pounds to his 6-foot-5, 269-pound body.
Linebackers: (8) You can never have enough linebackers and defensive backs because they are most of your special teams players. Outside linebackers Joey Porter, Jason Gildon, and Clark Haggans are no-brainers, as are inside linebackers Kendrell Bell, James Farrior, and John Fiala. Justin Kurpeikis has had a good camp and will earn a spot for a second year in a row, while rookie Larry Foote, a fourth-round draft choice, has also looked good in camp and will get the eighth spot.
Defensive backs: (10) The Steelers actually have some promising youngsters in the secondary. Rookie safety Chris Hope, a third-round draft pick, is the team's future at that position, and undrafted free agent safety Erik Totten and first-year cornerback Nijrel Eason, an NFL Europe player, have had strong camps. The team keeps those three and cornerbacks Dewayne Washington, Chad Scott, Deshea Townsend and Hank Poteat. It also keeps safeties Brent Alexander, Lee Flowers and Mike Logan.
Specialists: (3) Punter Josh Miller is one of the best in the league at his position and the team gave Peterson a $600,000 signing bonus. Peterson hasn't looked much better than free agent Joe O'Donnell, but will get the job because the Steelers have money invested in him. Rookie free agent Bob Jones was expected to challenge Mike Schneck for the long-snapping job, but the battle really hasn't developed. Schneck holds on for another year.