Steelers 53-man roster prediction: Loss to Eagles shows a few areas of concern

Neal Coolong
SB Nation

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.

Offense (24)

Quarterback (3) - Ben RoethlisbergerBruce Gradkowski, Landry Jones

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.

Running backs (5)Le'Veon BellLeGarrette BlountDri ArcherWill Johnson, TBD

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.

Offensive tackles (4)Marcus GilbertKelvin BeachumMike Adams, Wesley Johnson

Offensive guards (3) Ramon FosterDavid DeCastro, Cody Wallace

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.

Tight ends (3)Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Michael Palmer

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.

Wide receivers (5)Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Lance Moore, Justin Brown, Martavis Bryant

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.

Defense (25)

Nose tackles (2) - Steve McLendon, TBD

Defensive ends (5) Cameron Heyward, Brett Keisel, Cam Thomas, Stephon Tuitt, Nick Williams

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.

Inside linebackers (5) - Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Sean Spence, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin

Outside linebackers (4) - Jason WorildsJarvis Jones, Arthur Moats, Chris Carter

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.

Cornerbacks (5) - Ike Taylor, Cortez AllenWilliam Gay, Brice McCain, Antwon Blake

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.

Safeties (4) - Troy Polamalu, Mike Mitchell, Shamarko ThomasRobert Golden

Just something to think 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.

Specialists (4)

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.

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