Not-so-tough decisions

Dale Lolley looks at the Steelers' final 53-man roster and realizes Mike Tomlin was right all along. The choices weren't tough at all, and had become pretty obvious.

So much for all of the tough decisions.

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked time and again in the past week about all of the tough choices he had to make in regards to trimming the team's roster to 53 players.

But in the end, the decisions weren't all that difficult. In fact, as Tomlin repeatedly said when asked about his starting lineup, the choices became obvious as time went on.

Tomlin really didn't send any messages to his team with his cuts unless you consider the release of Chidi Iwuoma a message.

Iwuoma had been Tomlin's special teams captain throughout the preseason. But Iwuoma isn't the biggest of guys and he was starting to break down physically. You don't like to get rid of guys who are respected in the locker room, but the best 53 are the best 53.

This team has enough effective special teams players that keeping a veteran like Iwuoma around – who only plays special teams – was a luxury the Steelers couldn't afford.

In my mind, the release of center Chukky Okobi was a no-brainer. A guy who sulked after losing his starting position – who also happens to be making $2 million – isn't somebody you want to keep around. Add to that Okobi's neck injury last year and his release just made sense.

Sean Mahan didn't really do anything to win the starting center job other than stay healthy. And when Okobi missed two weeks of training camp with a lower back injury, his fate was sealed.

If Tomlin did have a difficult decision to make, it was at running back. But again, as the preseason wore on, that decision also became obvious.

Dan Kreider had been on the bubble along with Haynes until he showed the team that it couldn't live without his aggressive blocking.

And when it came down to a choice between keeping Haynes or rookie Gary Russell, there really was no choice.

Russell has upside – though he isn't another Willie Parker-like find.

Haynes, meanwhile, was a redundancy on this roster. Carey Davis can be the team's backup fullback and is an outstanding special teams player. And Najeh Davenport has proven he can be the team's third-down back.

Perhaps the only real surprise of Tomlin's first roster was the team's decision to trade for return man Allen Rossum. Willie Reid hadn't done anything this preseason to show that he's an NFL-caliber return man, but the team seemed to have other options there.

Santonio Holmes improved as a return man throughout the season last year, while veteran Cedrick Wilson had shown some promise as a punt returner in the preseason.

But Tomlin obviously wants to save Holmes, who will have a much bigger role in the offense than he did last season. And you can't help but think that Tomlin looked at Wilson's career punt return average of 6.7 yards and didn't like that option.

Considering the conditional draft pick the Steelers had to give Atlanta is a late-rounder next year – and the lack of success in recent years of second-day picks sticking on the roster – the team really didn't give up much to get him.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.


Steel City Insider Top Stories

\r\n\r\nSo much for all of the tough decisions.\r\n

\r\nPittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked time and again in the past week about all of the tough choices he had to make in regards to trimming the team's roster to 53 players.\r\n

\r\nBut in the end, the decisions weren't all that difficult. In fact, as Tomlin repeatedly said\r\nwhen asked about his starting lineup, the choices became obvious as time went on.\r\n

\r\nTomlin really didn't send any messages to his team with his cuts unless you consider the release of Chidi Iwuoma a message.\r\n

\r\nIwuoma had been Tomlin's special teams captain throughout the preseason. But Iwuoma isn't the biggest of guys and he was starting to break down\r\nphysically. You don't like to get rid of guys who are respected in the locker room, but the best 53\r\nare the best 53.\r\n

\r\nThis team has enough effective special teams players that keeping a veteran like Iwuoma\r\naround – who only plays special teams – was a luxury the Steelers couldn't afford.\r\n

\r\nIn my mind, the release of center Chukky Okobi was a no-brainer. A guy who sulked after losing his starting position – who also happens to be making $2 million – isn't somebody you want to keep around. Add to that Okobi's neck injury last year and his release just made sense.\r\n

\r\nSean Mahan didn't really do anything to win the starting center job other than stay healthy.\r\nAnd when Okobi missed two weeks of training camp with a lower back injury, his fate was sealed.\r\n

\r\nIf Tomlin did have a difficult decision to make, it was at running back. But again, as the\r\npreseason wore on, that decision also became obvious.\r\n

\r\nDan Kreider had been on the bubble along with Haynes until he showed the team that it\r\ncouldn't live without his aggressive blocking.\r\n

\r\nAnd when it came down to a choice between keeping Haynes or rookie Gary Russell, there really was no choice.\r\n

\r\nRussell has upside – though he isn't another Willie Parker-like find.\r\n

\r\nHaynes, meanwhile, was a redundancy on this roster. Carey Davis can be the team's\r\nbackup fullback and is an outstanding special teams player. And Najeh Davenport has\r\nproven he can be the team's third-down back.\r\n

\r\nPerhaps the only real surprise of Tomlin's first roster was the team's decision to trade for\r\nreturn man Allen Rossum. Willie Reid hadn't done anything this preseason to show that\r\nhe's an NFL-caliber return man, but the team seemed to have other options there.\r\n

\r\nSantonio Holmes improved as a return man throughout the season last year, while veteran\r\nCedrick Wilson had shown some promise as a punt returner in the preseason.\r\n

\r\nBut Tomlin obviously wants to save Holmes, who will have a much bigger role in the\r\noffense than he did last season. And you can't help but think that Tomlin looked at Wilson's career punt return average of 6.7 yards and didn't like that option.\r\n

\r\nConsidering the conditional draft pick the Steelers had to give Atlanta is a late-rounder\r\nnext year – and the lack of success in recent years of second-day picks sticking on the\r\nroster – the team really didn't give up much to get him.\r\n

\r\nDale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.","mobileBody":" So much for all of the tough decisions.

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked time and again in the past week about all of the tough choices he had to make in regards to trimming the team's roster to 53 players.

But in the end, the decisions weren't all that difficult. In fact, as Tomlin repeatedly said when asked about his starting lineup, the choices became obvious as time went on.

Tomlin really didn't send any messages to his team with his cuts unless you consider the release of Chidi Iwuoma a message.

Iwuoma had been Tomlin's special teams captain throughout the preseason. But Iwuoma isn't the biggest of guys and he was starting to break down physically. You don't like to get rid of guys who are respected in the locker room, but the best 53 are the best 53.

This team has enough effective special teams players that keeping a veteran like Iwuoma around – who only plays special teams – was a luxury the Steelers couldn't afford.

In my mind, the release of center Chukky Okobi was a no-brainer. A guy who sulked after losing his starting position – who also happens to be making $2 million – isn't somebody you want to keep around. Add to that Okobi's neck injury last year and his release just made sense.

Sean Mahan didn't really do anything to win the starting center job other than stay healthy. And when Okobi missed two weeks of training camp with a lower back injury, his fate was sealed.

If Tomlin did have a difficult decision to make, it was at running back. But again, as the preseason wore on, that decision also became obvious.

Dan Kreider had been on the bubble along with Haynes until he showed the team that it couldn't live without his aggressive blocking.

And when it came down to a choice between keeping Haynes or rookie Gary Russell, there really was no choice.

Russell has upside – though he isn't another Willie Parker-like find.

Haynes, meanwhile, was a redundancy on this roster. Carey Davis can be the team's backup fullback and is an outstanding special teams player. And Najeh Davenport has proven he can be the team's third-down back.

Perhaps the only real surprise of Tomlin's first roster was the team's decision to trade for return man Allen Rossum. Willie Reid hadn't done anything this preseason to show that he's an NFL-caliber return man, but the team seemed to have other options there.

Santonio Holmes improved as a return man throughout the season last year, while veteran Cedrick Wilson had shown some promise as a punt returner in the preseason.

But Tomlin obviously wants to save Holmes, who will have a much bigger role in the offense than he did last season. And you can't help but think that Tomlin looked at Wilson's career punt return average of 6.7 yards and didn't like that option.

Considering the conditional draft pick the Steelers had to give Atlanta is a late-rounder next year – and the lack of success in recent years of second-day picks sticking on the roster – the team really didn't give up much to get him.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.","skipOnMobile":false,"media":[],"dateOverride":"2007-09-02T11:25:00","authorOverride":"Dale Lolley","role":"SteelCityInsider.com","isPremium":true,"isHotNews":false,"isRumor":false,"syndicationFlag":true,"isClassified":true,"hotNamesLinked":true,"storyImage":"[MEDIA:445938]","mainImage":{},"thumbnailImage":"[THUMBNAIL:445938]","heroImage":{},"authorImage":"","tags":[{"id":"182","name":"Pittsburgh Steelers"}],"nodes":["99"],"isActive":true,"inActiveAndMemberHasPublishRights":false,"createdOn":"2007-09-02T11:53:27.71","createdById":"166721","modifiedOn":"2014-07-06T00:19:50.097","modifiedBy":"51458","imgs":[],"viewStats":[{"from":"2015-05-26T07:00:00","to":"2015-05-26T08:00:00","count":4},{"from":"2015-06-16T15:00:00","to":"2015-06-16T16:00:00","count":4},{"from":"2015-11-16T22:00:00","to":"2015-11-16T23:00:00","count":1}],"hasVideo":false,"brandUnsafe":false,"breakingNews":false},"editorsChoice":{"siteUrls":["http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1704973-energy-bringers-badasses","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1701783-a-day-in-the-life?preview=true","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1644408-long-may-heath-run","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1626251-ups-and-downs-shazier-playcaller","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1614465-qa-peezy-deebo"],"networkUrls":["http://www.scout.com/nfl/browns/story/1712163-gordon-to-enter-rehab-facility?s=143","http://www.scout.com/story/1712173-dez-bryant-on-mic-let-s-put-up-50","http://www.scout.com/college/football/recruiting/story/1711551-best-coaching-fit-lsu","http://www.scout.com/college/football/story/1711186-inside-the-matchup-stanford-vs-washington?s=147"],"topRibbonWidgets":[],"carouselStoryUrls":["http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1712144-steelers-turn-hubbard","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1711853-buzz-about-new-steelers-starters","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1711542-all-22-review-steelers-eagles","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1711135-craig-wolfleys-view-sideline","http://www.scout.com/nfl/steelers/story/1710728-notebook-sportswriter"],"storyStreamUrls":[],"storyStreamBlacklistUrls":[],"videoStories":[{"type":"StorySummary","containerType":"StorySummary","id":"1712144","siteId":"68","isPublicSite":true,"subdomain":"pit","canonicalUrl":"http://pit.scout.com/story/1712144-steelers-turn-to-hubbard","shortUrl":"http://pit.scout.com/story/1712144-steelers-turn-to-hubbard","siteName":"Steel City Insider","forumName":"","friendlySubdomain":"Pittsburgh","title":"Steelers Turn To Hubbard","subtitle":"","seotitle":"Yet another injury thins offensive line","caption":"","deck":"Practice injury to B.J. 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