Defensive Linemen (6)
Ziggy Hood, Steve McLendon, Brett Keisel, Al Woods, Cameron Heyward, Hebron Fangupo
Hood and Keisel will start at the defensive end spots, and McLendon finally gets his chance to take over for “Big Snack.” First round draft bust Cameron Heyward and the versatile Al Woods should supply some depth, and I believe that Fangupo, not Alameda Ta’amu will get the nod as the team’s backup nose tackle.
LaMarr Woodley, Larry Foote, Lawrence Timmons, Jason Worilds, Jarvis Jones, Chris Carter, Vince Williams, Marshall McFadden, Brian Rolle
The top five in the rotation are set in stone. Foote and Timmons will start on the inside, while Woodley, Jones, and Worilds will be the top three on the outside. As far as the backups are concerned, it would not shock me if the Steelers decided to keep three inside linebackers around for depth and special teams purposes. I would not be shocked however if the Steelers elected to keep Alan Baxter over Carter if the veteran fails to impress during Thursday night’s game.
Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen, William Gay, Curtis Brown, Terry Hawthorne
Unless injuries decimate this unit, I believe that the Steelers will only keep five cornerbacks on their active roster. Taylor, Allen, Gay, and Brown figure to be the top four, and rookie Terry Hawthorne should nail down the fifth spot if he can stay healthy. The Steelers could add a sixth cornerback, but I will discuss why I believe that they will not in the “Safeties” section.
Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu, Robert Golden, Shamarko Thomas, Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith
Polamalu, Clark, Golden, and Thomas are essential locks at this point, and Thomas’ play during the preseason has been solid. Due to the poor play of Josh Victorian though, I think that Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith will make the roster as the team’s fifth safety and for help on special teams. Since Thomas and Golden can help out in the slot if injuries strike, the Steelers might be inclined to stick with five cornerbacks and five safeties.