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Steelers Analysis

Steelers Break Conventions in Setting Initial 53-Man Roster



The Pittsburgh Steelers have set their initial 53-man roster for the 2021 season, making a few surprise cuts in advance of Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline, while also taking a different team in terms of composition to the regular season than Mike Tomlin normally does.

The Steelers released guards Rashaad Coward and B.J. Finney, going with just eight total offensive linemen on the first 53 and leaving only J.C. Hassenauer and the versatile Joe Haeg as interior backups. Chaz Green and John Leglue were also cut.

On the defensive line, though, an unprecedented eight players made the cut, with the entire backup brigade of Isaiah Buggs, Carlos Davis, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Henry Mondeaux and Chris Wormley making the squad with Stephon Tuitt’s status still in question.

The same thing happened at inside linebacker, where six players made the squad, including backups Marcus Allen, Ulysees Gilbert III, Buddy Johnson and Robert Spillane.

The Steelers were more selective at outside linebacker, where veteran Cassius Marsh and sixth-round pick Quincy Roche were cut, and in the secondary, where Mark Gilbert, Arthur Maulet and Donovan Stiner failed to make the team, leaving the Steelers with just eight total defensive backs.

Elsewhere, returning staples Trey Edmunds, Kevin Rader, Jaylen Samuels and Cody White all found themselves on the chopping block. Quarterback Josh Dobbs’ turf toe injury in the preseason finale was deemed significant enough for him to land on the injured reserve list.

Of course, with a week and a half before the Steelers actually take the field in Buffalo on Sept. 12, there could be plenty of changes to the makeup of the roster before the opener. The Steelers will also add 16 players back to the practice squad on Wednesday afternoon.

Once again this season, up to two players can be elevated from the practice squad to the active roster each week without having to clear waivers on the way back down. The ability to elevate players makes having specific numbers of each position group on the active roster less necessary, something the Steelers may have leaned on while going with their uncharacteristic position distribution.

Here is the team’s entire initial 53-man roster.


Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins


Najee Harris, Anthony McFarland Jr., Kalen Ballage, Benny Snell Jr. and fullback Derek Watt


Eric Ebron, Pat Freiermuth, Zach Gentry


Tackles Zach Banner, Chukwuma Okorafor, Dan Moore Jr. and Joe Haeg; guards Kevin Dotson and Trai Turner; centers Kendrick Green and J.C. Hassenauer


Tyson Alualu, Isaiah Buggs, Carlos Davis, Cam Heyward, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Henry Mondeaux, Stephon Tuitt, Chris Wormley


T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Melvin Ingram, Jamir Jones


Devin Bush, Joe Schobert, Robert Spillane, Marcus Allen, Ulysees Gilbert III, Buddy Johnson


Joe Haden, Cam Sutton, James Pierre, Justin Layne


Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Tre Norwood, Miles Killebrew


Kicker Chris Boswell, long snapper Christian Kuntz, punter/holder Pressley Harvin III