I know it is really too early to confidently predict the Steelers 53 man roster.
But it sure is fun to speculate.
The have been unusually active with trades and free agent signings this offseason. The front office brought in a number of veteran players, most of whom have worn a Pittsburgh uniform before.
Coupled with the last two draft classes, both of which have been spectacular, the moves should make for an interesting preseason and possibly some surprises for us fans come time for the final 53 man roster.
There will always be some players on the roster bubble every season. But I believe an unusually high number of players will be on the bubble this year.
Obviously, QB Charlie Batch knows his playing days are limited. Will Pittsburgh keep Batch on the roster for the four to six games Big Ben must sit out?
If Ben's suspension is cut to four games before the first regular season game, will the Steelers keep Batch for the whole season.
Or will he be cut before the season opener?
Leftwich will most likely be the starter while Ben is out.
Dennis Dixon is listed as the back up for now, and probably for the future. Would Arians be forced to put Dixon in if Leftwich struggles in the first two games?
In two to three months, we will have a lot of answers to these questions.
The first three or four wide receiver positions are essentially locked up.
Hines Ward, Antwaan Randle El, Mike Wallace and probably Arnez Battle will fill these spots. The Steelers usually keep five wide receivers on their roster.
Third round draft pick Emmanuel Sanders will more than likely be the fifth wide receiver. The Steelers would not draft a player that high without giving him a good chance at making the roster.
Pittsburgh drafted Sanders because of his large target area.
He has great hands and an above average ability to adjust to where the ball is thrown. The Steelers won't find out how good he really is until Sanders starts getting banged around by NFL defenses.
Then you have Tyler Grisham, entering his second year, who played a little last year after Limas Sweed left. Grisham has been working some with the first team offense during OTA's with Ward nursing a sore hamstring.
Last, but not least, is late round draft pick Antonio Brown. Brown seems very confident in his own abilities and seems to be fighting hard for a spot on the team.
Both Grisham and Brown could very well end up on the practice squad this year.
None of the starting wide receivers are really on the bubble this year, except for maybe Arnez Battle, who was brought in as a free agent before the draft. But that is doubtful.
The Steelers need to keep an eye on the future. Ward is nearing the end of his career and they have no clear cut number one receiver going into this season.
Pittsburgh is counting on second year wide receiver Mike Wallace to become that guy.
Pittsburgh sometimes keep four tight ends on the roster since Arians took over as the offensive coordinator.
Last year in order of ranking there was Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Sean McHugh, and David Johnson.
But if the Steelers do have a full back this year. They will need to make a roster cut some where.
Miller is the main receiving threat then Spaeth at number two. McHugh and Johnson seem mainly to be used as blockers or at the full back position.
So why keep them both on the roster? That could put Johnson or McHugh on one the the roster bubbles.
McHugh is the oldest and highest paid of the of the two.
Frank (the Tank) Summers made the roster in 2009. But a back injury cut his rookie season short after only two games. The Steelers are trying to make a full back out of him this off season.
With sixth round pick Jonathan Dwyer bringing some new talent to the mix, Issac Redman last years preseason fan favorite returning for another try and Logan last years return specialist all trying to make the roster at the running back position.
Dwyer, Summers and Redman are all about the same size. Dwyer is a little faster and more of a pure runner. Summers and Redman who are more bull dozing push the pile types. But Summers is a pass catching threat out of the back field.
While Redman was last years preseason rushing leader and showed good ability to gain the needed yards in short yardage situations.
If the Steelers do keep a full back on the roster, they will probably only keep three other running backs. Mendy is number one and Moore is number two for at least one more year. My money for number three is on the new guy Jonathan Dwyer.
But who knows with Logans speed, he brings something to the mix none of the others have.
Redman could be kept on the practice squad again this year.
I like Redman he is a fighter, but I got to believe Dwyer has more upside. If Dwyer does become number three will the Steelers keep Logan as number five?
With all the players Pittsburgh has brought back and drafted this year it may not be possible for them to keep more than four backs counting the full back.They also may not be able to keep some one who is only a return specialist.
There are only 53 spots on the roster and I think the Coaching staff will have more hard choices to make this year than usual.
Coach Tomlin has said before having hard choices to make come time to make out the roster is a good thing for the Steelers.
I don't know if I agree with that. I think it would be better for the team if they had players that were so much better than those around them. That choosing them would be easy.
There are many roster possibilities with the 2010 offensive line.
Pittsburgh usually keeps nine o-linemen on the roster. Seven dress for games.
The left side appears to be set with tackle Max Starks and guard Chris Kemoeatu. Of course, newly drafted center Maurkice Pouncey will also be on the roster, possibly playing at right guard in his first year.
Right guard Trai Essex will more than likely make the roster. He is also the back up at left tackle. With Pouncey in the RG rotation this year. Would the Steelers really cut Essex? It has to be considered. Especialy since the Steelers drafted RG/RT Kraig Urbik with their second pick in the 2009 draft one year ago. Or if a player steps up this year who could be the back up the left tackle while playing at right guard?
Essex could be on that bubble.
Right tackle Willie Colon maybe? The Steelers offered Colon a one year contract this year. Both Colon's and Essex's contracts end in 2011.
And the right side seems to be an area the Steelers are targeting to improve their offensive line.
During OTA's Tony Hills has been used some with the first team offense at right tackle.
I am sure there will be others tried out at right tackle during the pre-season.
Possibly second year player left guard Ramon Foster, who was a tackle in college, may get a try at right tackle. Chris Scott G/T the team's fifth round pick and a tackle in college, and free agent pick up RT/LT Jonathan Scott will also compete for a spot. Maybe even rookie LT Kyle Jolley.I think the best any of the rookies can hope for is a spot on the practice squad.The way I see it T Tony Hills or RG/T Essex better have a really good training camp to avoid being on a roster bubble.
During the 2009 season Pittsburgh had eight (counting the center) o-linemen on the 53 man roster at the beginning of the season.
Center Doug Legursky was then put on the roster from the practice squad during mid season when Kemoeatu was injured for four games which made nine.
Legurskey was listed as a back up guard and played a few downs at the FB position in 2009.
Now with the first round pick Pouncey there is ten. At least one player from that list of nine offensive line players will have to be cut. Maybe two?
Most likely players to be on the bubble are LT Tony Hills , RG Essex , or one of the two centers from 2009.. If last years two rookie O. line men LG Foster and RG Kraig Urbik keep improving. It is unlikely the Steelers would cut one of them.
If Legursky can be put back on the practice squad and Pouncey does not start at center then C. Justin Hartwig's spot on the roster could be safe for one more year.
Would Legurskey or Hartwig be riding one of those bubbles if Legurskey can't be put back on the practice squad?
Hartwig has been a good center,he just will never be as good as the Steelers need him to be.