NFL from the Sidelines

Post-Carolina thoughts

Thank God that ugly, ridiculous preseason is over.

In their final two preseason games, the Steelers gave up more than 1,000 yards of offense in losses to Buffalo and Carolina, as their backups proved that many of them don't belong in the NFL.

That's not to say there aren't some guy who can play on those units, but the Steelers don't have much of a JV squad this season.

That might not bode well over the course of a 16-game season. Some of the backups will be pressed into action at some point. And unless it's at the right position - inside linebacker, perhaps CB - they will be in deep trouble defensively.

I've been saying all along the Steelers only have four NFL-caliber defensive linemen. But after watching Daniel McCullers get moved around by the Panthers reserves Thursday night, they might not even have that.

The Steelers had better scour the waiver list Friday and Saturday and come up with one or even two defensive linemen and another offensive linemen.

* Shamarko Thomas, one of just two defensive starters to play in this game along with linebacker Arthur Moats, was getting killed on social media for taking a bad angle on Jordan Todman's 49-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

Thomas did take a bad angle, but part of the problem was that Todman came through completely untouched through the line. Gotta at least get one hand on him up there, don't you?

* Mike Tomlin singled out Roosevelt Nix as a guy who stood out to him in this game thanks to a blocked punt. That's the kind of thing that will win you a roster spot, regardless of position.

And the fact that fullback Will Johnson got four carries late in the game tells me the Steelers might be leaning toward keeping Nix over Josh Harris.

Harris was hurt a lot this preseason and didn't do much against Carolina or Buffalo.

Could they go with DeAngelo Williams, Johnson, Nix and Dri Archer to open the season until Le'Veon Bell gets back in Week 3?

Why not? Unless there's another back cut loose that can really help them - in which case, he'll be in demand - that's still better than what they went into the playoff game against Baltimore with last season.

* Tomlin also said the picking a punter will be difficult not because both guys stunk, but because both guys really kicked well.

It's a good problem to have. I'd keep Jordan Berry. I saw how Brad Wing's kicks got shorter and shorter as the weather got colder last season.

Wing has kicked well in this preseason, but Berry has better hang time and, as we saw Thursday night, he can kick a knuckleball that is difficult to catch,

* I expect the Steelers to cut down Friday. They will then scan the waiver wire after putting Maurkice Pouncey on short-term IR and see what's available.

There could also be more cuts Sunday after guys clear waivers. It's going to be an interesting process.
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Steelers kick tires on Taylor

The Steelers surprisingly - or not surprisingly - brought in defensive tackle Phil Taylor for a visit, 24 hours after he had been released by Cleveland.

In a way it's a surprising move because Taylor is a nose tackle, a position at which the Steelers have depth.

 At the same time, it shows just how desperate the team is to acquire NFL-caliber defensive linemen. Right now, they have four.

They need at least five and possibly six.

It could just be a case of the Steelers kicking the tires on Taylor, who has had some serious knee issues, in case they need to sign him.

But the Steelers are in a pretty bad spot on the defensive line. They'll be watching the cuts very closely.

@ I've been asked several times for a 53-man roster update. But there's been so much going on with this team in the past couple of weeks, I haven't had time.

Well, here's what I think heading into the preseason finale.

Quarterback (3): Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick and Landry Jones - Pretty cut and dried. You can argue until your face turns blue about Jones and/or keeping three QBs. It's what Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin believe in.

Running back/Fullback: (4) DeAngelo Williams, Dri Archer, Will Johnson, Josh Harris - Harris has done nothing to earn this, but Jawon Chisholm hasn't been great, either. Perhaps Roosevelt Nix gets the spot to open the season. He could line up as a lead blocker for Johnson. The Steelers get a roster exemption for two games for LeVeon Bell but I can't see them going to New England next week with three running backs on the roster.

Wide receiver: (5) Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Sammie Coates, Tyler Murphy - Again, they get a roster exemption for four games for Martavis Bryant. I'm keeping Murphy, who has shown me enough to keep me interested in his future.

Tight end: (3) Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Jesse James - The last men standing. Pretty easy.

Offensive line (9): Kelvin Beachum, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Marcus Gilbert, Cody Wallace, Alejandro Villanueva, Doug Legursky, Chris Hubbard. Steelers will put Pouncey on IR with designation to return.

Defensive line (5): Cam Heyward, Steve McLendon, Stephon Tuitt, Daniel McCullers and Mystery Lineman No. 1 from parts unknown, weight unknown. Walton has promise, I suppose, but he's not ready to play. The Steelers need a DE to back up Heyward and Tuitt. They don't currently have one.

Linebacker (10): Jarvis Jones, Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Arthur Moats, James Harrison, Bud Dupree, Sean Spence, Terence Garvin, Vince Williams, Anthony Chickillo. I'm trying to trade Garvin or Williams, if I'm the Steelers, to get back the draft picks I've already dealt away. If that happens, I'm keeping L.J. Fort, who was picked up a couple of weeks ago but has flashed as a special teams guy. But that goes to show that those kind of guys can be had cheap. Fort has already been released by Seattle and New England this year.

Defensive backs (10): Cortez Allen, William Gay, Brandon Boykin, Antwon Blake, Doran Grant and B.W. Webb at CB; Mike Mitchell, Shamarko Thomas, Will Allen, Robert Golden and Ross Ventrone at safety. Tough cuts here. Josh Fogg has consistently made plays throughout training camp and the offseason and has the team's lone interception in the preseason. But he's not beating out one of the top four, so you slide him to the practice squad over Grant, who would get claimed, and Webb, who would be claimed. At safety, it's Ventrone for special teams purposes over anyone else.

Specialists (3): Josh Scobee, Greg Warren and Jordan Berry. I'm keeping Berry because of his big leg. But it wouldn't surprise me if Wing wins it again. It's a very even battle.

Read full post: Steelers kick tires on Taylor


What do you think?