PITTSBURGH — The Steelers made their first eight cuts on Saturday, trimming their roster to 82 players before the team eventually gets it down to 90 by Tuesday at 4 p.m. Those players were CB Madre Harper, CB Nevelle Clarke, DL Jay Nyamwaya, K B.T. Potter, LB Kuony Deng, ILB Forrest Rhyne, LS Rex Sunahara, and WR Dan Chisena.
However, what did the first moves tell us about where Pittsburgh sees their roster now? Here are a few things that we learned.
Aron Cruickshank Has Something
Dan Chisena got the bad news and his walking papers on Saturday among the wide receivers. Interestingly, the newest signee in the room, Aron Cruickshank, did not. The team released Kuony Deng, who signed with the Steelers the same day as Cruickshank. That tells me that the Steelers think they could have something here in Cruickshank, who got open multiple times deep down the field against the Falcons, though he did not catch any of the targets his way.
Cruickshank, a returner with speed and elusiveness, had an upward trend throughout his college career as a receiver. To say the least, Pittsburgh could have an intriguing practice squad player in Cruickshank.
CB Hierarchy Revealed
Madre Harper and Nevelle Clarke were the two defensive backs released by the Steelers. That only leaves so many outside cornerbacks on the team, with Luq Barcoo, Chris Wilcox, and Lavert Hill remaining as the depth options. Not all of those players are likely to end up back on the team’s practice squad, but it’s clear who has the position to earn those spots. Wilcox is a player who hopped up the depth chart during training camp. Hill is the most recent signee, coming in when Duke Dawson suffered a knee injury and playing in the slot. Barcoo flashed all throughout training camp. Given how they played throughout the preseason and training camp, it is the right three backups to have on top of the scale.
Well, Braden Mann is Still Here
B.T. Potter and Rex Sunahara are no longer with the team, as Chris Boswell and Christian Kuntz won their competitions. Pressley Harvin III has likely won his as well, so why is Braden Mann still here in that case? Adam Caplan of Pro Football Network reported yesterday that Mann is drawing interest from the Philadelphia Eagles.
That signals there could be some real smoke to this rumor. Maybe teams are calling about the veteran punter, who has a reputation as a proven player in the NFL. Do not be surprised if the Steelers could flip Mann for a late-round pick if teams call about him.
Last year, during early cuts, Pittsburgh released Genard Avery, who they figured they were unlikely to keep to give him time to latch on elsewhere. If there were a time to release a guy out of respect, this probably would have been the day. That did not come, so factor that idea into the final plans for incoming cuts over the next few days.
Pittsburgh sees something, at least in everyone that is here still. There are building block days starting today through Monday, so they would not cut players for any reason. Those released are unlikely to make it back to the practice squad, and it seems no veteran is obviously on the outside looking in right now.