Among the 15 released players are rookie linebacker Ryan Baker, defensive tackle Mike Blanc, rookie wide receiver Paul Cox, rookie cornerback Andre Freeman, rookie kicker Daniel Hrapmann, linebacker Mortty Ivy (waived/injured list), offensive tackle Kyle Jolly, long snapper Matt Katula, tight end Jamie McCoy, cornerback Walter McFadden, tight end Justin Peelle, safety Myron Rolle, wide receiver Juamorris Stewart, defensive tackle Kade Weston and wide receiver Jimmy Young.
Letting go of Hrapmann may be a mistake. Throughout the preseason, he’s been a perfect five for five kicking field goals. Shaun Suisham, on the other hand, only connected on 74.2 percent of his kicks last season. The rookie kicker could possibly sign with a team that needs a kicker, and it could come back and haunt Pittsburgh. When I say that, I’m thinking of the Baltimore Ravens, who recently cut Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff.
With Cox, Stewart and Young leaving the receiving corps, it leaves Tyler Beiler, rookie Toney Clemons, David Gilreath, and Derrick Williams to battle it out to join Antonio Brown, Jerricho Cotchery, Emmanuel Sanders and Mike Wallace.
Baker and Ivy, both inside linebackers, are the only linebackers to be cut thus far. Seeing that Pittsburgh hasn’t let go of any outside linebackers hasn’t surprised me. Having James Harrison and Jason Worilds on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, the Steelers can’t afford to not have enough bodies at that position. I’m on the fence about whether Pittsburgh will cut anymore linebackers. If it does happen, it will be between second-year players Brandon Hicks and Marshall McFadden.
Another thing that doesn’t surprise me is that only one offensive lineman was released. Jolly being the only casualty from the offensive line on this list of cuts shows that the Steelers are trying to keep as many able bodies as possible to be available for the o-line. The injury to first-round pick David DeCastro and the uncertainty of Max Starks’ knee are major parts of this decision.
As for the secondary, the departure of Freeman, McFadden,and Rolle leaves safeties Damon Cromartie-Smith and rookie Robert Golden, and cornerbacks Josh Victorian and rookie Terrence Frederick for spots in the defensive backfield.
After Pittsburgh’s preseason finale this Thursday against the Carolina Panthers, 22 more players will be cut. Many of the players fighting for a roster spot will try to prove to the Steelers’ coaching staff their worth on the field at their respective positions. However, their play on special teams is what will win over the coaches approval.
All NFL roster cuts must be final and reduced to 53 players by 9 p.m. EST on Friday.
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