There probably aren't a whole lot of battles remaining on the team's roster, but other issues need to be accounted for at this point. The Steelers will make their initial cut down to 75 on Tuesday. Here's how we see the 53-man roster playing out right now.
No changes here. While Jones hasn't given a game-viewable reason to make this team, the team won't cut ties with him after two camps. Now, if they could get something by way of a trade...more on that in a bit.
Plain and simple, they're going to need to add a veteran running back. One that can contribute on kick returns would be ideal, but with the possible suspension of Bell and/or Blount (not a guarantee to happen early, though), the team is going to have to look over the waiver wire before Thursday's game, if not make a trade.
Anyone want on the Stephen Houston Bandwagon? It's coming.
The Steelers will make their cuts by 4 p.m. Tuesday, it wouldn't be a surprise to see them make a move Wednesday.
Centers (1) - Maurkice Pouncey
The addition here is the rookie Johnson, who's shown progressive improvement in time at center and guard. Perhaps the immediate plan for him is on the interior, but it appears he's a better multi-position reserve than Guy Whimper right now. Adams has done enough in three preseason games to think he's their main back-up at tackle, and if Johnson can be counted on to play tackle in a pinch, Whimper will be the odd many out.
This is a big game for Rob Blanchflower, the team's seventh-round pick. He'll likely make it through Tuesday's cuts, but he's going to have to show something Thursday. They're giving him every chance to take Palmer's spot, but I don't think he's done that yet.
There's nothing new in this front. Brown is taking snaps with the 1s now, and Bryant is hard at work, but will likely be fifth on the depth chart.
Nose tackles (2) - Steve McLendon, TBD
The big mover of the week. The addition of Keisel ends Josh Mauro's shot at an active roster spot, but he's the kind of player they may want to find a way to keep anyway. Williams' versatility and athleticism is more to blame. He can play on special teams (as can Brian Arnfelt, another very difficult cut), and Mauro probably couldn't.
It will pain Steeler Nation to see it, but Dan McCullers gets the bump here too. The current defensive line just isn't performing well enough to think it can get by with what they have. Expect them to kick the tires of a veteran tackle. we're saving a spot for someone - perhaps someone not currently on the roster, or perhaps the return of Loni Fangupo, if he can get back on the field.
Spence's injury isn't expected to be serious, and if nothing else, this serves as the unnecessary confirmation Garvin will make the team. Carter moves Vic So'oto off in what very well could be the last decision the team makes before posting the 53-man roster.
Overall, cutting Jordan Zumwalt isn't what the team wants to do, but unless they keep 10 linebackers, they're keeping a player who, between a late college graduation and multiple injuries, has barely seen the field.
If you never followed this team and didn't know who each player was, you'd think Allen and Taylor were on the bubble, not the starters. Neither have performed well this preseason, and it has to be driving Tomlin and LeBeau crazy, considering the questions about depth at this position will continue to be asked.
And rightly so. They've gotten, at best, up-and-down performances out of McCain and Blake, and haven't seen Shaquille Richardson on the field the last two games. They can't keep Richardson, and this is another area we should expect them to target in a possible pre-cutdown trade. Dealing a young quarterback like Jones for a competent veteran cornerback would be a smart move. In that case, McCain is probably the odd man out in this group.
Just something to think about...is Mike Mitchell clearly the best free safety the team has? Thomas has had an outstanding preseason, and they have to be thinking about ways to get him on the field. I smell a "co-starter" story coming in our near future. Thomas has earned that, I'm not sure Mitchell has at this point.
Jordan Dangerfield is the trickle-down odd-man-out after shifts on offense require another player on that side of the ball to be kept.
Kicker (1) - Shaun Suisham
Punter (1) - TBD
Long snappers (2) - Greg Warren, Bryce Davis
Brad Wing will not be this team's punter in Week 1. I'd bet on it. Another spot can be cleared up here if Warren can run come Week 1. The team won't keep two of them if he can, and Davis may be just holding down the fort and collecting a per diem until then. His spot probably will be battled out between So'oto, Dangerfield, Whimper and the unidentified running back.
More from sbnation.com:
- Let's trust Tomlin and the Steelers to make the right decision
- Snoop Dogg goes off on Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley
- Sean Spence has PCL injury, according to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin
- Brett Keisel isn't coming back to coach
- Worilds nearly signs with Eagles this offseason
- Speaking (make that asking) as a fan