The Pittsburgh Steelers have finished the halfway point of the preseason. Week 3 is known as the dress rehearsal game, which has the starters preparing as if the game were a regular-season one. Week 4 of the preseason is the last chance for bottom-level players to put tape out there for the practice squad and other teams’ consideration.
With that in mind, the Steelers roster is not locked but is much closer to set than it has been. How would the Steelers 53-man roster look if they were to make cuts today?
Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Josh Dobbs
Rudolph may have claimed the backup job in Week 2 of the preseason. Dobbs has not played well enough to find a trade, but has not played poorly enough to lose his job to Devlin Hodges.
RUNNING BACK (4):
James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell, Rosevelt Nix
Benny Snell’s surprising special teams prowess has made it easy to keep just four backs, including Nix.
WIDE RECEIVER (6):
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Donte Moncrief, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, Eli Rogers, Ryan Switzer
Johnny Holton is trying to use special teams to claim a spot, but he is currently on the outside looking in. Could he catch Switzer?
TIGHT END (3):
Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble, Zach Gentry
Gentry was banged up in the second preseason game but looked solid in Week 1. Without competition behind him the team will need the rookie to be healthy in Week 1 of the regular season.
OFFENSIVE LINE (8):
Alejandro Villanueva, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Matt Feiler, B.J. Finney, Chuks Okorafor, Zach Banner
Fred Johnson is pushing to make a case for the 53-man roster while Okorafor and Banner duel for backup tackle duty. The rest is locked in.
DEFENSIVE LINE (6):
Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Tyson Alualu, Isaiah Buggs, Dan McCullers
This is very cut and dried with no one close to pushing the group.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (5):
T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo, Ola Adenyi, Tuzar Skipper
Adenyi is not injured enough to go on IR, but will miss regular-season time. That combined with a strong preseason has Skipper in.
(5): Devin Bush, Vince Williams, Mark Barron, Tyler Matakevich, Ulysees Gilbert
Gilbert has played his way onto the roster with speed and special teams ability.
Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton, Artie Burns, Cameron Sutton, Justin Layne
Artie Burns is on the books and has played hungry in camp, making this a fairly decided unit. Brian Allen has played well, but there probably isn’t room for another outside corner.
Sean Davis, Terrell Edmunds, Jordan Dangerfield, Kameron Kelly
Kelly may get to work in one some dime snaps while Dangerfield is a reliable special teamer. Marcus Allen appears destined for the practice squad.
Chris Boswell, Jordan Berry, Kameron Canaday
The Steelers brought in competition for Boswell, but he has been unphased.
Watch: Steelers LB Ola Adeniyi Surprises Mother with SUV for Birthday
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi had a big surprise for his mother for her birthday last week.
Adeniyi, who was born in Nigeria and grew up in Texas, posted a video on Friday of him surprising his mother with a Range Rover for her birthday.
Adeniyi, 23, just finished his third season with the Steelers in 2020 after joining the team as an undrafted free agent out of Toledo in 2018.
He got his most extensive playing time this season, appearing in 14% of the team’s defensive snaps after playing just 1% and 6% in his first two seasons. The injury to Bud Dupree opened up more playing time for Adeniyi and rookie Alex Highsmith at outside linebacker. Adeniyi has been a consistent performer on special teams the last two seasons.
Adeniyi is a restricted free agent this offseason and should be expected to earn a raise on his $575,000 salary from this past season.
Jerome Bettis Helps Start Memorial Fund for Family of Tim Lester
Steelers running back Jerome Bettis is trying to help out the family of his former teammate.
Tim Lester, who was Bettis’ teammate and lead blocker with the Steelers and Los Angeles Rams, died this week at the age of 52 due to complications from COVID-19.
After Lester’s death, Bettis started the Tim Lester Family Memorial Fund, and a GoFundMe page that has accumulated over $35,000 worth of donations in just two days.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragedy and want to support Tim’s wife Natalie and children Tim Jr., Tristan and Tony in any way we can,” Bettis wrote. “I , Jerome Bettis, with the help of my family, friends and former teammates of mine and Tim’s have set up this memorial fund to help the Lester family with funeral costs. We thank you for your thoughts, prayers, well wishes and generous donations in lieu of flowers.”
James Farrior, Joey Porter, Kordell Stewart and Will Wolford are among the former teammates that have contributed.
Report: Ben Roethlisberger Wants JuJu Smith-Schuster to Return to Steelers for 2021
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is expected to return to the team, according to a report by NFL Network, and he apparently also wants wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster to return to the team with him.
NFL Network’s Mike Garafalo reported that Roethlisberger has communicated to the team that he wants Smith-Schuster back for the 2021 season.
Roethlisberger has one season left on his contract, which carries a $41 million cap hit, including $19 million of salary. Smith-Schuster is set to become a free agent for the first time in his career after making $1.04 million in 2020.
Roethlisberger’s contract is a big part of a money crunch that has the Steelers as much as $40 million over the 2021 salary cap entering the offseason.
Smith-Schuster is expected to make as much as $15 million per year on a market-value contract.
It’s not clear how the Steelers would be able to fit both Roethlisberger and Smith-Schuster under the 2021 salary cap. Roethlisberger would almost certainly have to take a significant pay cut.