Defensive Linemen (7)
Ziggy Hood, Steve McLendon, Brett Keisel, Al Woods, Cameron Heyward, Brian Arnfelt, Alameda Ta’amu
Ziggy Hood and, Brett Keisel appear ready to man the starting defensive end spots this fall, while Steve McLendon will finally have the chance to take over for “Big Snack” Hampton at nose tackle. Cameron Heyward and the versatile Al Woods should be the team’s top two backups, and I think that Alameda Ta’amu will edge out Hebron Fangupo for the backup spot in the middle. I also would not be surprised if the Steelers kept Brain Arnfelt on the regular roster to prevent him from going on the waiver wire.
LaMarr Woodley, Larry Foote, Lawrence Timmons, Jason Worilds, Jarvis Jones, Adrian Robinson, Vince Williams, Marshall McFadden
Larry Foote, Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley, Jason Worilds, and Jarvis Jones are virtual “locks” at this point. Behind them though is where the depth gets murky. Marshall McFadden has developed into a decent backup since he was signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad in 2011, while Adrian Robinson has shown flashes of pass-rushing ability during the last two preseasons as well. Vince Williams could also make the 53-man roster if he is able to be an effective special teams player.
Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen, William Gay, Curtis Brown, Terry Hawthorne, Josh Victorian
Taylor, Allen, and Gay are shoo-ins for the top three cornerback spots. Curtis Brown will probably earn one final chance to prove himself as a backup this fall, while Josh Victorian will receive another year to develop after he played a large amount down the stretch in 2012. I also believe that rookie Terry Hawthorne will notch the final spot now that he is healthy.
Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu, Robert Golden, Shamarko Thomas
Health permitting, I think that it’s a safe bet that the Steelers go with their two Pro Bowl safeties in the forms of Clark and Polamalu. I believe that the versatility of Golden and Thomas will also earn them roster spots too. Both players can line up in slot coverage, and Thomas is a devastating hitter. Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith might be an option as a fifth safety, but his lack of versatility and inconsistent special teams play could cause him to be cut.