The Steelers do not have a lot of cap space and are still trying to re-sign WR Mike Wallace, which could force the team to cut even more veterans in favor of rookies.
I still do not see the Steelers missing a beat in 2012 and here is who I expect to make the 53-man roster and practice squad.
Roster Spots: 3
Cut: Jerrod Johnson, Troy Smith
The Steelers are obviously set at this position with arguably the best starting quarterback in the league in Ben Roethlisberger.
There was some speculation at the beginning of the offseason that the Steelers were not going to bring back Byron Leftwich. However, after they re-signed him, I do not see him getting cut.
I keep expecting Charlie Batch to just retire every year, yet he keeps coming back and the Steelers seem content with having him be a solid No. 3 QB with the ability to come in for a spot start or two in a season.
I have actually really liked Troy Smith ever since he came into the league, but I just do not see him beating out Leftwich or Batch for a spot on the roster.
Fullback: David Johnson
Roster Spots: 6
P.U.P. List: Rashard Mendenhall
Cut: Will Johnson
The running back position is going to be maybe the most interesting during camp this year with all of the inexperience due to the Rashard Mendenhall injury.
Isaac Redman will be the starting guy and behind him will primarily be Jonathan Dwyer with Baron Batch as the third-down back.
Chris Rainey is listed as an RB, yet he is going to be used more as a receiver and out of the backfield on screens and plays of that nature.
I have John Clay making the roster despite that I did not think he would make it to the practice squad, but he will because of the injury history of both Dwyer and Batch. However, I do not think he will be active much at all during the season.
I have David Johnson rounding out the backs here, although I think Will Johnson is going to put up a huge fight in camp for that FB spot.
Roster Spots: 2
Suspended: Weslye Saunders
Cut: David Paulson, Jamie McCoy, Wes Lyons
First off, I’d like to point out that I have three tight ends listed here though there are only two roster spots being taken. That is because David Johnson is listed here as a TE, but I have his spot being recorded at the FB position.
I think the backup TE position is going to be completely decided by who shows the best ability to block in camp and in preseason games.
I am giving Leonard Pope the edge here because he is a veteran, but I would not be surprised to see Paulson, McCoy, Lyons or even Will Johnson make the team here.
There is also a chance that the team keeps an extra TE on the roster until Weslye Saunders completes his four-game suspension. In that case, I think McCoy makes it and then is cut after Week 4.
Roster Spots: 5
Cut: Tyler Beiler, Connor Dixon, David Gilreath, Marquis Maze, Juamorris Stewart, Derrick Williams, Jimmy Young
This is probably one of the more cut-and-dry positions in camp, although I think there is a chance the team decides to keep a sixth receiver if someone really impresses in camp.
Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, and Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery will compete to see who gets more of the third-receiver snaps.
Either way, the first four spots are set at receiver and honestly I think most of us would be surprised if seventh-round pick Toney Clemons didn’t take the fifth spot.
One of the other receivers in camp will have the opportunity to compete, but I just do not see any of them getting a spot on the roster at this point.
Roster Spots: 9
Cut: Kelvin Beachum, Chris Scott, Jonathan Scott, Trevis Turner, Ryan Lee
The Steelers went into the draft needing to upgrade the offensive line and they got a gift in starting guard David DeCastro.
Mike Adams may not play much his rookie year. However, he gives the Steelers more depth and the ability to cut veteran Jonathan Scott.
Ramon Foster will be the other starting guard and Doug Legursky goes back to being the primary backup at both guard and to Maurkice Pouncey.
Trai Essex makes the team because of his ability to play every position on the offensive line. Although I don’t see John Malecki being active, he provides more depth at both guard and center.
Roster Spots: 7
Cut: Al Woods, Kade Weston, Jake Stoller, Ikponmwosa Igbinosun, Mike Blanc, Miguel Chavis
The Steelers finally selected the future replacement for Casey Hampton when they took Alameda Ta’amu in the fourth round of the draft.
Ta’amu’s role as a rookie will be determined entirely by how he picks up the playbook and how well Casey Hampton comes back from his injury.
If Hampton is able to come back and start, then the Steelers will have Ta’amu sit for most of his rookie year. However, if Hampton is not ready, then McLendon and Ta’amu will man the NT position.
Ziggy Hood and Brett Keisel will be the starting DEs with Cameron Heyward being the primary backup to both of them.
That then leaves Corbin Bryant to take the last defensive line spot due to the experience he received by taking Aaron Smith’s spot on the roster last season.
Roster Spots: 8
Cut: Brandon Lindsey, Adrian Robinson, Eric Clanton, Mortty Ivy, Marshall McFadden, Brandon Hicks
Three out of the four starting linebacker positions are set, with the final competition being between Larry Foote and Stevenson Sylvester to replace James Farrior on the inside.
I am rooting for Sylvester to win that job, but I have a feeling that Foote will begin the year as the starter. Sean Spence should mainly be a backup in his rookie season.
If the Steelers had drafted an outside linebacker early in this draft, I thought there was a good chance that Jason Worilds would be cut, but as of now he should be the main backup on the outside.
Chris Carter was very impressive to me in his limited snaps as a rookie and I think he could surpass Worilds if he can get better against the run.
There is a shot that either Brandon Lindsey or Adrian Robinson could make the team as a reserve outside linebacker, but I just see the Steelers keeping the extra defensive linemen instead at this point.
Roster Spots: 5
Cut: Walter McFadden, Terry Carter
Ike Taylor is obviously the number one corner and there is going to be a battle for the second spot between Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown.
My gut feeling on this is that Keenan Lewis will be the No. 2 with Cortez Allen No. 3 and Curtis Brown next in line.
When the Steelers drafted Terrence Frederick in the seventh round, I did not think there was much of a chance for him to make the roster until Antonio Smith was cut and I actually looked at who was in camp.
The Steelers only have seven cornerbacks in camp right now and I have Frederick beating out Walter McFadden and Terry Carter for the last spot.
Roster Spots: 5
Cut: Robert Golden, Myron Rolle
Due to the fact that the Steelers start the season in Denver, Ryan Clark is not going to be able to play, so they will probably carry one extra safety for Week 1.
I really wish the Steelers would just cut Will Allen and keep a guy like Myron Rolle, but Allen will probably make the team out of camp.
I do not think Allen should make the team ahead of Cromartie-Smith or Rolle, yet I really think he will be the one to stay on the roster after Week 1.
It really is nothing against Will Allen, but he has done nothing as a Steeler and the team could cut him and save some money by keeping a younger guy to play special teams.
Shaun Suisham K
Jeremy Kapinos P
Greg Warren LS
Roster Spots: 3
Cut: Grant Ressel, Drew Butler
There really should not be any surprises here, even though I would like to see the young guys overtake both Suisham and Kapinos.
Kapinos has actually been pretty consistent for the team, but I think most Steelers fans would like to see the kicker position upgraded.
I wouldn’t be mad or surprised if either Grant Ressel or Drew Butler made the team, but I really do not see that happening.
Mortty Ivy LB
Will Johnson FB
Trevis Turner OT
Kelvin Beachum G
Brandon Lindsey OLB
Kade Weston DT
Ryan Lee C/G
Marquis Maze WR
The Steelers are allowed eight spots on the practice squad and at this point it’s just a guess on who will make it here.
Mortty Ivy and Trevis Turner were both on the practice squad last season and Will Johnson takes Jamie McCoy’s spot here at TE/FB.
Depending on who performs better in camp, I could see either Lindsey or Adrian Robinson making it but not both of them.
Corbin Bryant will be here if he doesn’t make the team. However, since I have him making it, Kade Weston gets the spot.
Kelvin Beachum and Ryan Lee are both interesting rookies who could develop down the road on the offensive line. I like Marquis Maze, with Tyler Grisham no longer as the mainstay as the practice squad receiver.