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On the Steelers; What Keeping Four Wide Recievers Means

A lot of experts are calling this season for the Pittsburgh Steelers a ‘transition’ year and they may be right in the end, but after cut-down day yesterday the real transition may be in the approach on offense. With the Steelers choosing to keep just four wide receivers and four tight ends on the active roster, I think the following conclusions can be drawn;

  1. Despite not playing a down in the preseason, Mike Wallace will not only play next Sunday in Denver but he will start and he will contribute. I don’t believe conditioning will be a factor for him as he is in excellent physical condition, but in terms of ‘game speed’ that could take a few series for him to get going.
  2. The Steelers did not feel like anyone acquitted themselves strongly enough to warrant a spot on the roster as the 5th wideout. Toney Clemons, David Gilreath and Derrick Williams seemed to have the inside tracks but with depth issues elsewhere on the team, they were deemed expendable.
  3. Keeping four tight ends (Miller,Pope,Saunders,Paulson) the team shows they are serious about running the football and makes me wonder if we’ll see much of the 3-wide set that I advocate for all the time. Keep in mind Saunders will just miss three games as the Steelers have a bye in there which counts towards his four-week suspension. I would expect the team at that point to relegate Paulson to the practice squad. Regardless, get ready for a more traditional offensive set from Todd Haley.
  4. Don’t completely dismiss a last-minute signing for a 5th wide receiver who has been cut from one of the other teams. Personally, I look at rookie running back Chris Rainey as a ‘tweener.’ A guy who most certainly will line up in the back field but also a guy I believe you’ll see in the slot on occasion.

Other thoughts from cut day…

It became clear that Charlie Batch wanted to remain on the active roster by his solid performance Thursday night, but there was clearly another factor at play. For all intents and purposes, Batch would not have been claimed by any of the other 31 teams had he been cut and therefore the Steelers could have let him sit and if an injury occurred to Ben Roethlisberger or Byron Leftwich then he’d be available. The exception is former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians who would love having Batch’s veteran presence in Indianapolis to help rookie Andrew Luck. I honestly believe this was the only reason he stayed on the roster.

Although I didn’t think he was going to make it, it’s a nice story to see Baron Batch make the roster. The promising rookie of course blew his knee out last year before the first preseason game and fought through the rehab and made it. Pretty darn good for a 7th round pick.

Like him or love him, rookie Drew Butler is the punter. I like Butler, but I believe he MUST get better inside the 20 and improve his consistency overall.

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