Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 Roster at a Glance

Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin swung the axe yesterday in Pittsburgh, cutting 22 players including Jonathan Dwyer as well as members of the 2012 and 2013 draft classes.

  • So who was it that made the team?

Here is your Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 Roster at a Glance:

Quarterbacks (3)

Ben Roethlisberger
Bruce Gradkowski
Landry Jones

  • Of note:  Jones overcame a weak camp to make the team. Has potential but remains work in progress

Running Backs (5)

Isaac Redman
Felix Jones
LaRod Stephens-Howling
Le’Veon Bell
Will Johnson

  • Running Back Renewal:  Steelers showed no mercy in renewing this unit from 2012.

Wide Receivers (5)

Antonio Brown
Emmanuel Sanders
Jerricho Cotchery
Markus Wheaton
Derek Moye

  • Of note:  Derek Moye beat out a draft pick. Steelers remain the land of opportunity.

Offensive Line (9)

Mike Adams
Ramon Foster
Maurkice Pouncey
David DeCastro
Marcus Gilbert
Kelvin Beachum
John Malecki
Guy Whimper

  • Wait for the waiver wire:  Guy Whimper can and will be replaced if a better option, perhaps Max Starks, can be found via waiver wire.

Tight Ends (5)

David Johnson
David Paulson
Heath Miller
Matt Spaeth
Michael Palmer

  • If you missed it:  The Steelers brought in Palmer as a body, but he’s made the team.

Defensive Line (6)

Ziggy Hood
Brett Keisel
Cameron Heyward
Steve McLendon
Al Woods
Hebron Fangupo

  • New Face:  Hebron Fangupo beat out a couple of more prominent players to win his spot.

Linebackers (8)

Jason Worilds
Larry Foote
Lawrence Timmons
LaMarr Woodley
Chris Carter
Jarvis Jones
Vince Williams
Kion Wilson

  • Below the radar: Wilson surprises some, as Marshall McFadden and Alan Baxter got the preseason press coverage.

Cornerbacks (5)

Cortez Allen
William Gay
Isaiah Green
Ike Taylor
Curtis Brown

  • Point to remember:  Curtis Brown has one last shot….

Safeties (5)

Ryan Clark
DaMon Cromartie-Smith
Robert Golden
Shamarko Thomas
Troy Polamalu

  • Yin and Yang:  Clark and Polamalu are seasoned veterans, everyone else is practically a rookie.

Specialists (3)

Greg Warren
Drew Butler
Shaun Suisham

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 opening day roster is not necessarily set. Guy Whimper could be gone at the earliest opportunity. Likewise Matt Spaeth could find his way on the injured reserve list, Palmer’s presence suggests this possibility is real.

And of course the practice squad still needs to be set….

…Stay tuned Steelers Nation.

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Jonathan Dwyer Leads Steelers Cuts

The Steelers waived 22 players today to get within the NFL’s 53 man roster limit. And there were more than a few surprises.

Dwyer was a 6th round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft and at the time many draftnicks felt the Steelers had a steal on their hands.

Dwyer played well in mini-camp, but showed up overweight to training camp, but played his way on to the team in preseason. The same thing happened in 2011. He fared better in 2012 and was the team’s starting running back, but showed up overweight again in spring practices, although he arrived at Latrobe in good shape.

But Steelers coaches had wearied of Dwyer, and Felix Jones performance in the final two preseason games was enough to push Dwyer off of the roster.

Miller Time? Not Quite Yet, But Sooner Than Expected.

The Steelers moved Heath Miller to the active roster. Miller suffered a torn ACL in the Steelers loss to the Bengals, and had been on the Steelers PUP list. Now Miller can join the team at any time during the season. As it is, the Steelers are carrying an unheard of 5 tight ends on their roster.

No Draft Pick Security on the Steelers

The Steelers also showed no sentimentality when it came to draft picks. Alameda Ta’amu, the team’s 4th round pick in 2012, was cut, as where Terry Hawthorne and Justin Brown, who were 5th and 6th round picks from the 2013 NFL Draft.

All three could return to the practice squad.

Steelers 2013 Roster M.O. – Renewal

Cornerback Josh Victorian, linebacker Marshall McFadden, and tight end Jamie McCoy, players who spent time on the Steelers 2012 active roster and/or practice squad were all let go.

  • When Kevin Colbert talked about the expendability of players from an 8-8 squad, he was serious.

With that said, at least McFadden and McCoy have practice squad eligibility.

The rest of the players cut include:

Running back Alvester Alexander
Wide receiver Reggie Dunn and Kashif Moore
Tight End Nathan Overbay
Offensive linemen Mike Golic Jr., Joe Madsen, Joe Long and Chris Hubbard
Defensive end Brian Arnfelt
Linebackers Alan Baxter, Terence Garvin and Brian Rolle
Safety Ross Ventrone
Cornerback Devin Smith
Punter Brian Moreman

Potential Practice Squad Members

Expect a couple of three of the names above to return via the practice squad, assuming they do not land spots with other teams. Linebacker Alan Baxter impressed many and will likely be asked back. Defensive end Brian Arnfelt play in preseason impressed the scribes at Behind the Steel Curtain, and he could find his way back.

Mike Golic and Joe Long are also potential practice squad players.

Watching the Wavier Wire

One name not on the cut list is Guy Whimper a free agent offensive tackle who did not impress during the preseason. Max Starks is available, and there is the possibility that Starks could return to Pittsburgh, although he did play very poorly in San Diego.

Either way, you can be very, very sure that Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin are scouring the waiver wire at this very moment, looking for a quality offensive tackle who got caught up in a numbers game some where.

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Chargers Cut Max Starks; Could Starks-Steelers Hook Up One Last Time…?

The Pittsburgh Steeerls have announced that they will make their final cuts on Saturday, but many other NFL teams are not content to wait.

The San Diego Chargers made one move that should catch the attention of Steelers Nation:

Chargers announced: Released veteran OT Max Starks.
— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) August 30, 2013

Ah yes, Max Starks. Earlier this year the Steelers completed one half of what has become a familiar ritual for them – informing Max Starks that he is no longer in their plans. Starks, opted to sign with the Chargers seeking starting money.

But a woeful performance vs. the San Francisco 49ers made him expendable (Starks himself is reported to say that it was the “worst game of his life.”)

  • Its been widely acknowledged that the Steelers would search the wavier wire in depth to bolster their offensive line.

Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams are set as starters, although Kelvin Beachum has been rumored to challenge Gilbert. But Beachum is also a back up at guard and center.

After Beachum the Steelers have Guy Whimper, who has lived up to his surname by all reports…

…Could the Pittsburgh Steelers and Max Starks be destined to complete the cycle? Could we see Max Starks once resign with the Steelers for a final time.

The Steelers and Starks are very much like that couple in high school that keeps breaking up, only to get back together again. The Steelers and Starks have more break ups and reunions that The Who.

The “no we won’t” “yes we will” relationship between Starks and the Steelers began before the waiving and resigning began. In 2008 the Steelers named Starks their transition player, yet Max Starks couldn’t win a starting job and couldn’t even get top back up priority over Trai Essex in 2008, making him the highest paid 4th tackle in NFL history.

It could happen again. Its a good bet that his dear friend Ben Roethlisberger will lobby Kevin Colbert to bring him back.

Eagles Cut Robinson, Dixon

The danger of the Philadelphia Eagles becoming “Steelers East” appears remote, as the Eagles cut former Pittsburgh Steelers Dennis Dixon and linebacker Adrian Robinson. This move comes one week after Adrian Robison was traded to Philly.

Felix Jones on the other hand very well may have earned himself a roster spot.

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Steelers Ryan Clark Echos Jack Lambert and He is Right To…

Quarterbacks should wear dresses.” – Jack Lambert, early 1980’s
They might as well just take us off the field and see how many points you can score on offense in 60 minutes.” – Ryan Clark, August 2013

Ryan Clark might lack Lambert’s brevity, but his criticism of the NFL as equally accurate as it is damming.

  • When it comes to hypocrisy, the NFL knows no limits.

Fear not, this is no column decrying new NFL safety rules to reduce the threat of head trauma. Such rules, absent medical break throughs and/or a clearer understanding of what is causing so many former NFL players to lose it up stairs when they’re in their 60’s, 50’s or even 40’s, are needed.

But like a spoiled child, the NFL wants to have its cake and eat it too.

This is nothing new. In the early and mid 1970’s there was an opposing defender who was so physical with receivers downfield that the NFL had to modify its rules, preventing defenders from touching receivers beyond 5 yards.

That defender was of course Mel Blount, and Chuck Noll took advantage of the rules changes to unleash Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, and Bennie Cunningham and Super Bowls XIII and XIV followed.

The NFC Titan’s of the 1980’s followed suit Bill Walsh and Joe Montana and Joe Gibbs and a trio of quarterbacks dominated a decade.

  • But as happens, NFL defensive coordinators did what they do – they adapted.

And the way you adapt to making it more difficult to cover downfield is to increase pressure on the quarterback upfront. Pass rush specialists like Lawrence Taylor emerged. Others developed schemes to bring pressure from unique angles – you may have heard of Dick LeBeau and the Zone Blitz.

  • Of course increase pressure resulted in more injuries to quarterbacks.

So the NFL began legislating to protect its prized primiadonnas – nary a consideration was given to the root cause of the issue.

The same thing is repeating itself today. The NFL is rightly attempting to protect players, both defensive and offensive, from head injuries. So defensive backs adjust their technique to avoid the head and neck.

  • The result is that players like Dustin Keller suffer knee injuries as a result of a hit by D.J. Swearinger.

And of course the NFL steps in. Nothing is illegal. Yet. But we will investigate.

And the one doing the investigating is none other than the Steelers old friend Ray Anderson….

…Ray Anderson who made a similar “not illegal now but…” statement after Hines Ward devastating block of Keith Rivers. Ray Anderson who singled out James Harrison while turning a bind eye to questionable hits on Ben Roethlisberger…. (Click here for more on the Steelers and Anderson)

Yeah, Ryan Clark is right to call out the NFL.

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3 Unasked Questions of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 Preseason

A tumultuous off season has ended. Training camp is closed. The first roster cuts have been made. Only one preseason game stands between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the 2013 season.

Its been an eventful summer at St. Vincents and on the South Side. Lots has been said and done, with stories answering questions relating to:

Live tackling and increased focus on conditioning and the role of emerging leaders have also been frequent topics of conversation.

But there are a few stories that seem to have fallen from the cracks, a few “less frequently asked questions.

Did Golden Miss an Opportunity? 

The Steelers reputation of having an old defense continues to dog them. And while Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark aren’t the sole players dragging up that average, they certainly do their part.

The Pittsburgh Steelers liked Shamarko Thomas so much that they traded a future pick — something that they haven’t done since Chuck Noll was head coach and “Star Wars” a rejected name for a Hollywood game show pitting studios of various Hollywood competing against each other.

  • And Shamarko Thomas has delivered thus far.

Yet one of the bigger untold stories of the summer of 2013 has been Robert Golden. Golden made the Steelers squad in 2012 as an undrafted rookie free agent, and while he did not play enough his development was strong enough that management felt comfortable saying goodbye to Ryan Mundy and Will Allen – leaving no veteran depth behind Polamalu and Clark.

There were even rumblings on the blogesphere the Golden could make a more outspoken member of the secondary into a cap casualty….

…That later move doesn’t seem likely to come to pass. While there’s no evidence that Golden’s been a “disappointment” or that he’s in danger of losing his roster spot but his name hasn’t been heard much this summer.

Ziggy Heyward vs. Cameron Hood

This was to be Ziggy Hood’s make or break summer and if all went well Cameron Heyward would help push Ziggy Hood out the door.

Hood’s trajectory since assuming Aaron Smith’s spot in 2010 has plateaued since then and many snap-by-snap analysis showed Heyward out performing him in 2012. Others found Heyward equally disappointing.

While the situation of both men got attention early on in camp, there’s been little discussion who is leading the pack. The reason for that could very well be because Hood is holding off Heyward, but that’s only an assumption, making this yet another unasked question.

The Atrocious Teams 

Mike Tomlin hired Danny Smith to revive a special teams unit that had again regressed into a team liability.

His unit during the preseason would be more aptly named the Steelers atrocious teams. Throughout the preseason the special teams have been a painful constant.

Many have observed this fact, but few have explored its origin.

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Video Highlights of Steelers 26-20 Preseason Loss to the Chiefs

The Pittsburgh Steelers lost 26-20 in overtime to the Kansas City Chiefs, assuring them the first losing preseason record of the Mike Tomlin era, for whatever that little factoid is worse.

Based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, (and no fan of watching things on the computer) Steel Curtain Rising could not see the game, but as always we’re happy to bring you highlights. Watch them while you can, because Roger Goodell’s YouTube police seem to be more aggressive than ever.

The results in preseason are of course meaningless. Its performance that counts. In that light Steelers Nation is faced with a half full, half empty situation.

On the plus side…

On the negative side…

  • Special teams were atrocious, giving up a 109 return for a touchdown and seeing a blocked field goal
  • Despite playing Kelvin Beachum as a roaming tight end, Ben Rothlisberger was sacked twice and under pressure
  • The Steelers were penalized 9 times for 98 yards, many of which ensured that the Cheifs stayed in the game
  • The starting defense allowed Alex Smith to look sharp and tie up the score at half time
  • Neither Jonathan Dwyer nor Baron Batch could make headway rushing the ball (no wonder why Batch was cut)

The other big news of the night was the injury to first round pick Jarvis Jones, but it has been reported that the tests he underwent were negative.

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Baron Batch, Stevenson Sylvester Headline Steelers First Cuts

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 roster began to take shape today, and the list of cuts contain some familiar faces including Stevenson Sylvester and Baron Batch.

Baron Batch’s shot at making the roster figured to suffer a blow when the Steelers traded linebacker Adrian Robinson for Felix Jones; yet the absence of Adrian Robinson should have helped Sylvester’s case, at least on paper.

Reality turns out to be something different.

Also getting a visit from the Turk were:

Van Dyke, Spence Highlight Steelers Injury Moves

The Steelers have placed linebacker Sean Spence on the team’s Reserve/Physically Unable To Perform (PUP) List. Per NFL rules, this action bars Spence from even practicing with the team for 6 weeks, after which the Steelers have 3 weeks to activate him or place him on injured reserve.

Offensive lineman Justin Cheadle who was recently injured found himself on the waived/injured list as did DeMarcus Van Dyke. The only real difference here is that as both players were injured, the Steelers must reach an injury settlement with them.

Steelers seventh round draft pick Nick Williams, whose best shot was the practice squad, was also placed on injured reserve ending his rookie season before it ever began in a move that bolsters Al Woods and Alameda Ta’amu’s chances of making the final roster.

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Steelers Trade Adrian Robinson for Felix Jones

The Steelers Brain Trust offered Steelers Nation a classic lesson in understanding franchise operations this week:

  • Listen not to what we say, watch what we do

One day after Mike Tomlin provided good news about Le’Veon Bell’s injury, the Steelers traded linebacker Adrian Robinson for Eagles running back Felix Jones.

Clearly the Steelers are not counting on Bell’s availability early in the season, and clearly they are not sold on going into the season with Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman as their lead running backs. LaRod Stephens-Howling also remains and option, but he is seen as a third down back and return specialist.

Beyond that, Baron Batch’s chances of making the team are also impacted, although his ability to play special teams will certainly help his cause.

Jones Not Certainty, Let Alone a Savior

The Steelers are not counting on Felix Jones as a savior. Indeed, Steelers Digest editor Bob Labriola put the move in even more stark terms:

Trade of Robinson 4 Jones: Certainly worth a shot, but no guarantees Jones even makes the team. http://t.co/M2SsSVJOM0
— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) August 23, 2013

The Dallas Cowboys drafted Jones in 2008, one pick ahead of Rashard Mendenhall in what is now the Steelers infamous 2008 draft.

And if Steelers fans think that Mendenhall failed to live up to his promise, Jones offers even less promise as a back whose rushing production topped out at 800 yards in 2010, which was also Mendenhall’s best season, when he ran for close to 400 more yards.

On the defensive side, the move all but assures that Chris Carter will get a roster spot, and opens the door for Alan Baxter to land a spot as well.

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Tomlin Says Kelvin Beachum Threatening Starters; Le’veon Bell Injury Less Severe than Feared

Trai Essex held down a roster spot, and a lifeline to the NFL, with his ability to be the 6th offensive lineman. But that took time, as Essex was drafted as a tackle in 2009, only moving to guard full time in 2009, and didn’t see action at center until 2011.

During training camp Beachum has practiced at all five offensive line positions. And while that versatility is golden as the Steelers depth at offensive line remains precarious, Mike Tomlin is not ruling out giving Beachum a shot at starting at either right or left tackle.

As the Steelers head into their third preseason game vs. the Kansas City Cheifs, if nothing else Tomlin’s words should serve as a wake up call to incumbent starters Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams.

Bell’s Injury Less Severe than Feared

The Steelers got some good news on the injury front, as reports that 2nd round pick Le’veon Bell’s foot injury is less severe than feared. Bell has sprained ligaments in his foot, including apparently the lisfranc ligaments, but he is progressing rapidly and will not need surgery.

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The Life and Times of the Steelers David Johnson – From the PUP to Opening Day Starter?

Oh, to live the life and times of Steelers tight end-full-back-tight end David Johnson. Johnson:

And where is David Johnson now?

  • Well, David Johnson could very well end up as the Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 opening day starting tight end vs. the Tennessee Titans. 

Johnson, along with fellow tight end Heath Miller, open training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, but the Steelers have activated him from the PUP.

The Steelers find themselves in a precarious situation at tight end. Matt Spaeth, brought back in a surprise free agency reacquisition, has a lisfranc injury and will be out 8 to 10 weeks. Miller of course is rehabbing his own ACL tear.

David Paulson had what might have been the catch of the night, a 26 yarder from Ben Roethlisberger in the Steelers preseason loss to the Redskins, but his blocking has been suspect, and with a leaky offensive line that is an issue.

  • David Johnson is no season savior. 

He’s the type of player who lives year-by-year. But, like a great many late draft picks, Johnson gives it his all and has shown the ability step it up when called upon. He is a solid blocker and he should provide some valuable veteran depth at an area where the Steelers truly need it.

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