Pittsburgh Steelers: Biggest Snubs and Surprises from 53-Man Roster Cut
The Pittsburgh Steelers have made their final cuts and have finalized their 53-man roster.
Obviously, when I say finalized, I mean in numbers only. After all, the players this team will be composed of could change a great deal in the coming days.
Among the roster moves that were made, there were certainly some surprises and snubs. This is a team in transition, so a greater volume of turnover was to be expected.
So, let's take a look at the top snubs and surprises from the Steelers final roster cuts.
Surprise: Landry Jones Isn't the Backup Quarterback
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I'm not sure if this was a huge surprise, but I do know that many Steelers fans assumed when Landry Jones was drafted that he could—and would—win the backup quarterback job. Remember, Jones was one of the most productive quarterbacks in the history of college football during his time at Oklahoma.
However, Jones nearly played himself off the roster this summer. He ultimately ended up as the third quarterback, which means that he won't even dress during most weeks but will still have an opportunity to practice and develop this year.
Snub: Jonathan Dwyer Is Released
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Simply by virtue of the fact that Jonathan Dwyer was the team's leading rusher last season, this a serious snub. The severity of the snub is compounded by the fact that rookie Le'Veon Bell is injured and Felix Jones was acquired less than a month ago.
But there were times where Dwyer struggled a great deal, especially in pass protection. Watching him miss blocking assignments and blitzes was difficult. He was part of a crowded competition, and it became apparent that Dwyer was to be the odd man out.
Dwyer will almost certainly land somewhere else, if not back with the Steelers at some point.
Surprise: Felix Jones Makes the Team
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When the Steelers traded for Felix Jones on Aug. 23, I assumed he was a preseason body only and would never make it onto the final roster. But once the Steelers cut Baron Batch, the odds of Jones remaining on the roster went up.
Jones has played pretty well, showing more than a little zip in his step. But with his injury history, he must be handled with care. Used sparingly, Jones could be fairly productive, and his best role might be returning kicks and contributing on third down.
Snub: Alameda Ta'amu Fails to Make the Cut
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There was a time when Alameda Ta'amu had no future with this team.
Ta'amu was arrested for drunk driving in 2012, and many expected him to be gone immediately. However, the Steelers gave Ta'amu another chance.
When you consider how this franchise has dealt with problem players before, he needed to make the most of this opportunity.
Watching Ta'amu play this preseason, it appeared he had done just that, as he used his bulk very well and showed tremendous power. Still, the Steelers went with the safer player in Hebron Fangupo, leaving Ta'amu searching elsewhere for employment.
Surprise: No PUP List for Heath Miller
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When Heath Miller suffered his knee injury at the end of the season, I'm not sure if many thought he'd be ready for the start of the season. In fact, I didn't believe that he would be able to play at all in 2013. But in the days leading up to the final cuts, head coach Mike Tomlin hinted that Miller might be on the active roster.
This is huge news for the Steelers offense.
Last season, Miller was Ben Roethlisberger's favorite target, and without him, the offense could have really sputtered this year. Instead, the Steelers will have a tremendous weapon back in the middle of the field, as Miller's presence is going to add a dimension to the offense that none of the backups could provide.
Snub: Alan Baxter Loses out to Chris Carter
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I was really rooting for Alan Baxter to make the team at outside linebacker.
Over the entirety of the preseason, Baxter was better than Chris Carter. In fact, to my eye, Baxter was the best pass-rusher on the roster during the preseason.
But in the final preseason game, Carter made a few splash plays that convinced coaches to give him a shot over Baxter.
I am hopeful that Baxter will get stashed away on the practice squad because he is an excellent player with tons of potential. I can only assume that Carter's familiarity with the system gave him an edge over Baxter in the final analysis.
Surprise: Curtis Brown Didn't Get Cut
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First of all, I fully understand why Curtis Brown made the final roster. Brown is a tremendous special teams player, but it still doesn't make it any easier to deal with him making the roster over Terry Hawthorne.
I really felt that, over the course of the preseason, I saw more sound coverage from Hawthorne than Brown. And since the team's dime corner could end up covering tight ends and running backs this year, Brown's struggles in this department are worrisome.
Tackles are a bit of a useless stat for a cornerback, and my eyes told me that Brown didn't look as smooth in coverage this summer. Remember, if you give up catches, you get more chances to make tackles.
Regardless, Brown is here and wide receivers everywhere are excited.
Snub: Brian Rolle Loses out to Kion Wilson
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Of all the snubs on this list, Brian Rolle losing out to Kion Wilson is at the top of the list.
I didn't see any way that Wilson could beat him out. Rolle showed so much potential this preseason, and he is someone who plays fast and with a ton of energy.
Wilson, by contrast, is just a special teams player—something Rolle could definitely become while he is groomed to possibly start at inside linebacker.
This one baffles me.
The only positive from this is that rookie Vince Williams will see more reps as the primary backup for both Lawrence Timmons and Larry Foote.
Surprise: Steelers a Little Short on Offensive Linemen
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I was more than a little shocked when I saw that the Steelers chose to only keep eight offensive linemen, and I was confident that the Steelers would feel a need to keep nine of them. That's not to say that this team won't eventually have nine offensive lineman on the roster very soon, though, as the lack of depth along the offensive line has been the Achilles' heel of this team in recent years.
The Steelers didn't do a great job at addressing offensive line depth in the offseason, and now, it looks like they will need to scavenge the waiver wire. Anyone with significant talent could be an option.
Just how good the Steelers line can be is certainly intriguing, but the depth of this unit is absolutely terrifying.
Snub: Late Mistake Costs Reggie Dunn a Roster Spot
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Speed is something that no one can teach; you either have it or you don't.
This was the biggest plus to Reggie Dunn's game, as elite speed alone could have been enough to get him a spot on the roster as a kick returner.
But, in the final preseason game, Dunn went too far. He made a pathetic attempt to return a punt out of the end zone late in the game, and he failed miserably.
It went wrong because he had zero chance of getting parallel and get around the edge fast enough. Instead, he gave up a late safety. For all he did right, this was too wrong.
However, in the end, speed is something NFL teams covet. Don't be shocked if Dunn lands on another team where he can try and make people forget about that one bad play.