The Pittsburgh Steelers open training camp July 25 at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Here’s a 53-man roster projection:
With Roethlisberger under contract for three more years, the Steelers hope his successor is in the current position room. Rudolph looked more polished in his second year of offseason work, but Dobbs shined in the 2018 preseason and plans to do the same. The team might limit Roethlisberger’s August reps to get the backups more run.
The Steelers like Trey Edmunds‘ development but typically don’t carry four running backs and are invested in the draft picks they selected in back-to-back-to-back years. Snell Jr.’s physicality is intriguing — Conner says he can’t wait to see him in pads — but he might need time to improve conditioning, as is customary for many Steelers rookies at the position.
FULLBACK (1): Roosevelt Nix
Back like he never left. His usage rate dipped to 110 offensive snaps last season, as the Steelers went no-huddle often, but his bruising blocking is a good change of pace.
As a third-round rookie, Johnson would have to fall awfully flat in camp to lose a roster spot. Washington and Moncrief will battle for a starting role on the outside. Keeping six receivers is hardly a lock, but Switzer was second in receptions last season among Pittsburgh’s returning wide receivers and has kick return value, while Rogers is still a good matchup receiver against man coverage.
McDonald is poised for a monster season if healthy. Grimble, an elite athlete and blocker who has struggled with consistency, finally gets his chance as the No. 2 outright. Gentry’s 6-foot-6 frame could benefit the red zone package — eventually.
At right tackle, Feiler and Okorafor engage in arguably the team’s best position battle. Feiler acquitted himself well in 10 starts last season, and Okorafor has the natural feet and hands for the position. Finney is the swing guard. Hawkins needs a strong recovery from injuries. Banner provides tackle depth.
This lineup has been loosely set for months, though sixth-round pick Buggs probably needs a strong camp to secure the sixth spot. The defense will employ a heavy rotation of Heyward-Hargrave-Tuitt-Alualu, with McCullers as a situational option against the run. Lavon Hooks is a practice squad player with ability too.
The Steelers have steady four-man lineups at inside and outside linebacker, with Smith (6-0, 232) as a wild card. The sixth-round pick should make a compelling roster case with his quickness, but he might not have a positional home yet, as the Steelers tried him at running back in the spring. The offseason additions of Bush and Barron instantly upgraded the middle of the defense.
Burns is on shaky ground with last year’s benching and an $800,000 roster bonus due on the third day of training camp, but he has a good chance to stick. He had a solid spring, spending additional hours with the coaching staff after practices, and coach Mike Tomlin has invested a lot in the first-round pick. That gives the Steelers six corners with Brian Allen on the way out.
The Steelers signed free agent Matthew Wright to push a struggling Boswell, but the Steelers want their veteran to rediscover his rhythm. Berry signed a two-year deal in the offseason.