Mauro, Jones among final cuts by Steelers

August 30, 2014
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Associated Press
Steelers quarterback Landry Jones was far from impressive during the preseason, but he’ll be one of three quarterbacks with Ben Roethlisberger and Bruce Gradkowski. Howard Jones, shown tackling Carolina running back Fozzy Whittaker Thursday, played well during the preseason, but the linebacker was cast off by the Steelers. Pittsburgh’s roster was trimmed to 53 players Saturday, meaning 22 players were released. Players who clear waivers can be signed to the practice squad starting today at noon.
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Associated Press
Howard Jones, shown tackling Carolina running back Fozzy Whittaker Thursday, played well during the preseason, but the linebacker was found unwanted by the Steelers.

On the day one of their greatest undrafted finds announced his retirement from the NFL, the Steelers had no undrafted rookie surprises make their 53-man roster on final cutdown day.

Then again, former Steelers Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison, who announced he was retiring Saturday morning, didn’t make Pittsburgh’s roster in 2002 as an undrafted rookie, either.

That will be of little comfort to players such as defensive end Josh Mauro and linebacker Howard Jones, who showed promise during the Steelers’ training camp and preseason but ultimately weren’t deemed good enough to make the opening-day roster.

Mauro and Jones were among 22 players released by the Steelers, but they were hardly the most notable.

Offensive lineman Guy Whimper, who appeared in 11 games and made four starts last season; linebacker Chris Carter, a fourth-year linebacker; tight end David Paulson and wide receiver Derek Moye also were released. All four were on the team’s 53-man roster throughout 2013.

Also released were 2014 draft picks Shaquille Richardson, a cornerback selected in the fifth round who was sidelined for much of training camp and the preseason with injuries; and tight end Rob Blanchflower, a seventh-round pick.

Both could wind up on the 10-man practice squad. Players can be signed to it beginning today at noon after they clear waivers.

Mauro’s release came as something of a surprise.

The former Stanford standout had a strong preseason, recording a team-best two sacks. But with two rookies, second-round pick Stephon Tuitt and sixth-rounder Daniel McCullers, already among the top six linemen, and the re-signing of defensive end Brett Keisel, the Steelers might not have felt comfortable carrying seven defensive linemen.

The release of Jones and Carter leaves veteran Arthur Moats, signed as a free agent this offseason, as the only backup outside linebacker, though inside linebacker Terence Garvin has played there.

Whimper’s release leaves Mike Adams, replaced as the starting left tackle by Kelvin Beachum five games into last season, as the lone offensive tackle on the bench.

The Steelers also kept three quarterbacks and just four running backs, including fullback Will Johnson.

Second-year pro Landry Jones was kept, despite a mediocre preseason, to back up Ben Roethlisberger and Bruce Gradkowski. Le’Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount and rookie Dri Archer, a third-round pick, will handle the running back duties.

Odds and end zones

The Steelers’ final roster breakdown includes 25 offensive players (three quarterbacks, four running backs, three tight ends, six wide receivers, nine offensive linemen), 25 defensive players (six defensive linemen, eight linebackers and 11 defensive backs) and three specialists. … Longsnapper Greg Warren was cleared to return to practice and will play Sept. 7 against Cleveland. Warren had surgery to repair a torn meniscus two weeks ago. … Cornerback B.W. Webb, claimed by the Steelers off waivers from Dallas Friday when rookie linebacker Jordan Zumwalt was placed on injured reserve, was among the 11 defensive backs kept. … With Zumwalt, Richardson and Blanchflower not making the final roster, six of the nine draft picks made the roster.

Dale Lolley has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1993 after previously working at WJAC-TV and the Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, and The Derrick in Oil City. A native of Fryburg, Pa., he is a graduate of North Clarion High School and the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, where he earned a degree in journalism. He has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers since joining the Observer-Reporter in 1993, and also serves as the outdoors editor. He also is a radio host for Pittsburgh’s ESPN 970-AM, and serves as administrative adviser for the Red & Black, Washington & Jefferson College’s student newspaper.

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