On Monday, the Steelers reduced their roster to 75 players prior to the 4pm deadline set by the NFL. Nothing really surprising to report there, except for maybe LB Mortty Ivy’s seemingly early departure (I thought he would at least make the first round of cuts) and K Danny Hrapmann’s. The roster will continue to be trimmed before we get to the end of preseason. And, as I think about who’s left, there are two players in particular who have made an impression and deserve to stay on the Roster of 53. They aren’t spectacular or hot button guys, but thus far, they’ve shown have what it takes to belong.
Drew Butler has been great all camp. The undrafted rookie from Georgia stepped up as Kapinos stepped down due to injury. That back injury to Kapinos could leave him out through the first few weeks of the season, meaning that Butler will more than likely stay on the roster. However, I don’t feel his spot is solidified by default. Butler has shown consistency and distance averaging 48 yards over 19 punts. Three of those punts were downed inside the 20 and only suffered two as touchbacks. The punter position has been tricky of late with Daniel Sepulveda bowing out with an injury practically every season. Kapinos was a solid fill in and was looking to take this roster spot outright. Butler should be giving Tomlin and ‘new’ special teams coach Amos Jones. It’s in Butler’s blood to kick the football around (his dad was a place kicker in the NFL), and maybe his youth might help shake the injury bug that plagues the punter position.
Jerrod Johnson has been one of those under the radar guys during camp practice sessions but then made you go ‘Hey who’s that guy?’ during the first and second games of the preseason. Johnson was signed all the way back in January after being released by the Eagles in August of the 2011 season and watching football from his couch every Sunday. With all the ridiculous Troy Smith talk (where oh where is he now?) of early free agent pickups, Johnson practically went unnoticed all off-season. I like Johnson’s style on the field. He’s tall and spry like a Dennis Dixon (minus the suck), he can extend a play like Big Ben, and he has a much faster release than the guy who has a slug for a right arm (ahem, Byron Leftwich). Johnson has gone 7 of 11 for 178 yards, a TD and no INT’s. There’s just something about this guy that says he’s a better option over Leftwich. Sure Leftwich has more experience, although Johnson has probably thrown more passes in two years the Byron has. The Steelers have their vet back up in Charlie Batch. I think the team needs to continue to invest in young talent at the QB position. Eventually Ben’s time will be up or at least for an extended period of time due to a severe injury – come on, Ben’s style of play and age is bound to get him hurt at some point. Some may argue that is why you need Leftwich, but I think Johnson is the better investment at this point. Keep’im.
As stated earlier, neither of these two aren’t spectacular roster watches nor are they arguments for your fantasy rosters. But, these two could very well have a hand in the future of the Steelers being a continued success in the AFC North and in the NFL.
** Note: I wanted to entitle this post ‘Three Steelers…’ and include K Danny Hrapmann. Too bad he was cut today. It’s a damn shame too – 6 for 6 and a clutch kick to beat the Colts in three games. I can’t believe the Steelers still believe in Suisham. I thought they fired Al Everest…..