The Pittsburgh Steelers take to the field vs. the Green Bay Packers today in what will be the Steelers third preseason contest. The Steelers starters will look to get more work, but this preseason contest will remain the province of the starters.
- There are any number of roster battles in play and most of these are at the bottom of the depth chart.
Here’s a quick look at a 5 roster bubble steelers who can go a long way to helping themselves secure a spot on Pittsburgh’s 53 man roster.
Alejandro Villanueva. A year ago, he wasn’t even a Pittsburgh Steeler, as he was holding down a roster spot with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles cut him and the Steelers put him on their practice squad moving him from defensive line to the offensive line.
Physically, Villanueva is a monster, standing at 6’9” and with a weight listed at 277, but his actual weight could be close to 100 pounds higher. When training camp began, Villanueva was getting work as a back up left tackle, in the absence of Mike Adams. However, as camp progressed, the Steelers began working him at right tackle.
- If Villanueva shows he can work both sides effectively, he could earn himself a roster spot.
Ian Wild. Wild is listed as a safety, but after injuries to Lawrence Timmons and Vince Williams, Mike Tomlin moved him to inside linebacker, and has raved out him – something the Steelers head coach is not wont to do about rookies.
Neither Shamarko Thomas nor Michael Mitchell is going anywhere. Will Allen’s name has not been heard much, but given the lack of veterans on the defense, it would be a surprise to see him cut. The Steelers also have Ross Ventrone and Robert Golden on the team, both of whom would seem to have the inside track on a roster spot.
The Steelers did keep 6 safeties on their roster last year, but Ross Ventrone was a late addition. However, if Wild shows he can deliver on special teams, he could jeopardize Ventrone or Golden’s roster spot.
Shayon Green. Green actually started ahead of Bud Dupree in the Hall of Fame game, but Dupree’s spot is not in jeopardy. Neither is that of Jarvis Jones, James Harrison or Arthur Moats. The Steelers also have returning practice squad star Howard Jones and 6th round draft pick Anthony Chickillo at outside linebacker.
- Green has been a leading special teamer thus far in preseason, but he needs to kill it there again to ensure himself a spot.
Roosevelt Nix. Rossevlet Nix is making a name for himself at a position that is dying in the NFL – fullback. The Steelers already have an accomplished fullback in Will Johnson. The Steelers will not keep two players at a position where many NFL teams no longer carry one.
- Again, Nix needs to prove himself on special teams.
Terence Garvin. Garvin of fame from the 2013 matchup vs. the Bengals has been a star special teamer, but finds himself in a numbers game at inside linebacker, with Ryan Shazier, Sean Spence, and Vince Williams all holding sure roster spots.
- Against Green Bay, Garvin needs to separate himself from the Pack (pun intended.)
Do Salary Cap Ramifications Put Johnson, Golden in Jeopardy?
Two Steelers veterans who have extra reason to look over their shoulders are Will Johnson and Robert Golden. Both men signed restricted free agent tenders worth at just over 1.5 million dollars.
Success in the salary cap era is all about getting the most bang for your buck, so if strong performances by Roosevelt Nix and/or Ian Wild might tempt the Steelers into cutting them to gain what would figure to be 7 figures in salary cap savings.
How likely is that?
Not very. While Golden has played on special teams, he’s been with the Steelers since 2012, and that allows him to add much needed experience to the secondary. Will Johnson is also a proven commodity and someone the Steelers will not part ways with lightly.