Are eight rookies enough?

An outstanding crop of rookies barged onto the championship roster of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and some believe the team could've kept a couple more. Here's the breakdown on the new Steelers as they prepare to open the season Thursday against the Tennessee Titans.

In the offseason, Mike Tomlin studied the 1975 Steelers to gain a better understanding of defending a championship.

Tomlin must've blown off the part about cutting rookies.

The Steelers' coach will take eight rookies into the 2009 season as the Steelers attempt to become the third team in franchise history to repeat championships.

Chuck Noll only took three rookies into the 1975 season and five into the 1979 season, when Noll was criticized for hanging onto his veterans too long. Noll that year cut defensive end Dwaine Board, who went on to a stellar career with San Francisco.

Steelers fans hope history doesn't repeat itself with sixth-round pick Sonny Harris, a promising defensive end who Tomlin cut Saturday in order to keep the more experienced Travis Kirschke and Nick Eason as backups up front.

Another promising rookie to get the axe was running back Isaac Redman, who led the Steelers in preseason rushing and flashed short-yardage skills the team lacked in 2008.

The Steelers also on Saturday cut fullback Carey Davis, halfback Justin Vincent, quarterback Mike Reilly, wide receivers Dallas Baker, Tyler Grisham and Brandon Williams, tight end Dezmond Sherrod, offensive linemen Jason Capizzi, Jeremy Parquet and A.Q. Shipley, defensive linemen Steve McClendon and Scott Paxson, linebackers Bruce Davis, Tom Korte, Andy Schantz and Donovan Woods, defensive backs Roy Lewis and Anthony Madison, and kicker Piotr Czech. They also put tight end Sean McHugh on injured reserve and he'll miss the season.

The Steelers can begin stocking their 8-man practice squad noon Sunday. All of the cut players, except Carey Davis, Williams, Parquet, Paxson and Madison are eligible for the practice squad.

In all likelihood, the Steelers will open the season Thursday with a rookie at fullback. Frank "The Tank" Summers, the fifth-round pick beat out Davis for the job. And if Summers isn't the lead blocker, rookie tight end David Johnson, the 7B pick, will be. Both are explosive blockers who have the potential to upgrade the team's short-yardage attack.

Summers and Johnson should be part of the 45-man active roster on game days, as might a couple of third-rounders, cornerback Keenan Lewis and wider receiver Mike Wallace. Another candidate is undrafted guard-tackle Ramon Foster, who gives the team more versatility than the other rookie guard, third-round pick Kraig Urbik.

Ziggy Hood, the first-round pick, may have to sit early as Kirschke and Eason receive helmets on game day.

The eighth rookie on the roster is fifth-round cornerback Joe Burnett, who lost the punt-return derby to former CFL standout Stefan Logan. Logan doesn't qualify as an NFL rookie because he spent time on the 2007 Miami practice squad.

Other newcomers to the team include veteran cornerback Keiwan Ratliff, who beat out special-teams ace Madison, and Shaun McDonald, a veteran slot receiver.

Tomlin said Friday that he'd like to bolster his depth on the offensive line by picking up a veteran, but the choices are usually limited at this time of the year.


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