By Jeremy Hritz
The Steelers have finished preseason undefeated at 3-0, getting by the Detroit Lions 19-9. Now, final roster shaping is occurring, and by 4:00 pm on Tuesday, August 30th, your 2022 Pittsburgh roster will be set (well, sort of). In anticipation of the final cut downs, here is my final 53-man roster projection for your Pittsburgh Steelers.
Mitchell Trubisky, Kenny Pickett
No change. Trubisky is your starter, Pickett is your QB#2, while Mason Rudolph should be traded before the end of the week. Trubisky gets 6 games to prove his value before it is Pickett season. Chris Oladokun should be re-signed to the practice squad.
Running Back (4)
Najee Harris, Bennie Snell, Jaylen Warren, Anthony McFarland
For as strong of a camp and opening preseason game that Anthony McFarland had, he was unable to sustain it and has been quiet recently. I still believe he makes the squad, but I’m a bit hesitant. I’m also keeping Snell and Warren, as the rushing attack is going to be prioritized this season.
No change, but could the Steelers project Connor Heyward’s versatility as reason to release Watt?
Wide Receiver (6)
Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, George Pickens, Gunnar Olzewski, Steven Sims, Miles Boykin
Calvin Austin’s injury lands him on the practice squad, opening the door for Boykin. Sims makes the squad, as he has been consistent throughout the preseason. Hopefully, Johnson’s shoulder injury isn’t significant and that he can go week #1.
Tight End (3)
Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry, Connor Heyward
No change. Freiermuth continues to shine. Big year ahead for him.
Offensive Line (9)
James Daniels, Mason Cole, Kevin Dotson, Chuks Okorafor, Dan Moore, Joe Haeg, John Leglue, JC Hassenauer, Kendrick Green
A better performance, but still not where it needs to be. Moore struggled in pass protection, and Green wasn’t great, even as a backup. Too many penalties, and the run game looked like it did last season, which isn’t good. The team could cut Green and make a move, but I think they ride with what they have and rely on player development.
Defensive Line (6)
Tyson Alualu, Cameron Heyward, DeMarvin Leal, Isaiah Loudermilk, Chris Wormley, Larry Ogunjobi
No changes, other than Montravius Adams getting cut. Adams’ lack of availability hurt him, and the Steelers will look to get him on the practice squad. Was impressed by what I saw from Ogunjobi, Heyward, and Alualu all on the field together, despite the big gainer on the draw.
Inside Linebacker (4)
Devin Bush, Myles Jack, Robert Spillane, Mark Robinson
I buried Bush last week in my roster projection, and possibly too soon. He had a decent game yesterday, though he did give up a big pass play to the TE and struggled getting off of blocks; however, he did make a play in the backfield and demonstrated the burst and speed that this Steelers’ defense needs. Buddy Johnson has not been impressive this preseason and looks stiff and at least a year away from being able to contribute. It’s the practice squad for him, opening the door for the rookie Robinson.
Outside Linebacker (4)
TJ Watt, Alex Highsmith, Derek Tuszka, Player to be named
I’ll pass on Hamilcar Rasheed, as the team needs to find a free agent to bolster this group. As much as I like Tuszka, he is not a legitimate #3, so the team has to begin searching.
Ahkello Witherspoon, Cam Sutton, Tre Norwood, Levi Wallace, Justin Layne, Arthur Maulet
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Elijah Riley, Miles Killebrew
Damontae Kazee’s injury is such a shame, as he was playing at a high-level, and was contributing to the defense in their 3-safety package. Now, newcomer Riley sticks, while Killebrew makes it by default despite his injury. The team will definitely do its homework on this position before drawing any final conclusions on the roster.
Chris Boswell, Pressley Harvin, Christian Kuntz