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Steelers Analysis

Six Steelers Jobs Up for Grabs in Preseason Finale



Pittsburgh Steelers preseason
The Pittsburgh Steelers run onto the field to face the Buffalo Bills in the preseason, Aug., 19, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers will trim their roster from 90 players to 53 players after Thursday night’s third and final preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons.

But there are not 53 jobs available to be won in Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Thursday night. Thanks to salary, draft status or their body of work to this point in the preseason, many players have already secured a place on the roster for the season.

So which jobs remain up for grabs? Let’s take a look:

Steelers Gunner Olszewski

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Gunner Olszewski at training camp, Aug. 8, 2023. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now


The first four wide receivers appear to be set in stone, with starters Diontae Johnson, George Pickens and Allen Robinson II joined by Calvin Austin III. The fifth and sixth spots are probably also securely occupied by Gunner Olszewski and Miles Boykin.

That’s copacetic if the Steelers keep six receivers, but what if they only keep four? Olszewski has been the better of the two in terms of playing receiver so far this summer. But Boykin provides a lot of value by covering kicks and punts on special teams.

Boykin is a backup outside receivers, where only Robinson is behind two starters. There’s already one backup to Robinson in Austin, so is there a need for another?

It’s a tough call between the two veterans, and Thursday’s game could be the bonus point needed to flip one ahead of the other. Or, they could both make it, as they did in 2022.


It seems pretty clear that the Steelers will keep three tackles (starters Dan Moore Jr., and Chukwuma Okorafor and backup Broderick Jones), four guards (staters Isaac Seumalo and James Daniels and backups Nate Herbig and Kevin Dotson) and at least once center (starter Mason Cole).

Will they keep a second center? Kendrick Green has been the backup at that spot throughout training camp, but he has not performed well in his in-game reps.

Herbig has played center in the past, and took some reps there in training camp, but has not done so in a preseason game yet — something he says he’d like to do if he’s going to be asked to play there.

Seventh-round pick Spencer Anderson got some reps at center against the Buffalo Bills in the second preseason game. He could be another option.

With the rest of the offense (three quarterbacks, three running backs and four tight ends) seemingly set, the Steelers may have to pick between a sixth wide receiver and a ninth offensive lineman.

That choice won’t be limited to the players on the roster, either. They could look to the waiver wire to fill the backup center slot if they feel they need one and Green and Anderson are not up to the task.

If they decide Herbig is the best answer at backup center, could another player make the team as a backup lineman in another slot like tackle? Anderson could fill that role, one he is much more experienced at, and Dylan Cook has also impressed, climbing to the second-team against Buffalo.

Steelers Watts Adams

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive linemen Montravius Adams and Armon Watts at training camp, Aug. 4, 2023. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now


The three starters — Montravius Adams, Cam Heyward and Larry Ogunjobi — appear to be relatively set, with ankle injury robbing second-round pick Keeanu Benton of the opportunity to unseat Adams, at least at this juncture.

Benton will also make the team, as will 2022 third-rounder DeMarvin Leal. That leaves at most two more spots for 2021 fifth-rounds Isaiahh Loudermilk and free agents Breiden Fehoko and Armon Watts to battle for.

Fehoko appears to be somewhat superfluous as a third nose tackle, but Adams can also play the three-technique, so his versatility means the others can be shifted however they need to be in order to get the best seven on the roster.

Watts has had the quietest training camp of the bunch, while Loudermilk has greatly exceeded expectations. This will be the toughest cut on the team.


The one starting role that seems up for grabs at this point is the battle between Chandon Sullivan and Elijah Riley. Sullivan has more experience, but Riley is more versatile and has the advantage of playing special teams.

It’s possible that both will make the team, but only the winner of this battle will absolutely be assured of a roster spot. After all, Patrick Peterson will play some slot and the three-safety Heavy Nickel will feature Keanu Neal playing as the fifth defensive back a good bit, as well.

Steelers Sullivan Riley

Pittsburgh Steelers slot cornerbacks Elijah Riley and Chandon Sullivan celebrate an interception, Aug. 19, 2023. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now


You can likely put four outside corners — Peterson, Levi Wallace, Joey Porter Jr. and James Pierre — on the team, along with the winner of the slot cornerback battle and the three safeties: Neal, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Damontae Kazee.

The team will carry at least one more defensive back, and that battle will come between the loser of the slot corner battle and backup safeties Tre Norwood, Kenny Robinson and Miles Killebrew.

Norwood will be playing in his first preseason game after struggling through a calf injury for much of training camp. Robinson got a ton of reps while Norwood, Fitzpatrick, Neal and Kazee were all out of the lineup and did well. Killebrew basically didn’t get any reps with the first team, even with all those absences, and only plays strong safety.


The two defensive backs that don’t become the ninth DB to make it on the merit of their play in the secondary will also be considered to make the club specifically as a special teamer.

Linebackers Tanner Muse and Nick Kwiatkoski can be considered part of this group as well. But it appears that Killebrew, a former special teams captain, has the inside track on the job, as he has remained the personal protector for Pressley Harvin III on punts throughout the preseason.

That’s about it in terms of remaining Steelers openings. There are, of course, 16 practice squad jobs up for grabs, as well. But those are a little tougher to handicap at this point.

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