The Pittsburgh Steelers will cut their roster to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET Saturday. Here’s a projection:
Rudolph has positioned himself to win the No. 2 quarterback job. If the Steelers make that official this week, they can shop Dobbs or keep him as the No. 3. Thursday's preseason finale could be a showcase for Dobbs. No. 4 quarterback Devlin Hodges has shown a deft passing touch but might be more of a practice squad option.
Draft picks from three consecutive years complete the tailback lineup, though Snell needs to do more after averaging just 2.1 yards per carry in the first two preseason games and sitting out the third with a groin issue. He'll play in the finale and needs to perform. Snell has shown a willingness to tackle on special teams, which helps. Veteran Trey Edmunds is an option for the third spot, but the tie goes to the draft pick.
FULLBACK (1): Roosevelt Nix
Nix played 110 offensive snaps last season in a position that many teams have abandoned. But the Steelers still value him for blocking and special teams.
Johnson has missed practice time with various injuries but has shown enough route savvy to secure a spot. Rogers and Switzer play similar roles, but both bring value -- Switzer with versatility and as a kick/punt returner, Rogers as a slot option to beat man coverage. Johnny Holton and Diontae Spencer have made compelling cases for backup jobs.
Gentry, the 6-foot-6 rookie, hasn't shined consistently but doesn't have much competition for that third spot. Don't be shocked if the Steelers try to make a trade for depth.
This lineup is short on centers behind Pouncey and Finney, so Patrick Morris is an option here, but the Steelers are going heavy on reserve tackles with Okorafor, Hawkins and Banner. Coach Mike Tomlin likes the way they've competed.
Five of these spots have been solidified for months, with three starters (Heyward, Hargrave, Tuitt), the solid swing guy (Alualu) and a luxury bulldozer (McCullers). Buggs, a sixth-round rookie, has work to do, but the Steelers probably want to refine this project.
It's a tough call between Skipper and inside linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III, and maybe they keep both, but Skipper has stated his case with three sacks and stout play against the run. The Steelers can't go wrong with Gilbert, either. Special teams likely will determine this battle. Whether Adeniyi, the fourth pass-rusher, can return by Week 2 could sway the numbers in Gilbert's favor.
The Steelers have featured Kelly heavily in defensive packages, including a three-safety nickel look. Dangerfield slides into the fourth safety/special-teams role. Burns responded to last year's struggles with a steady camp and preseason. Two former draft picks, safety Marcus Allen and corner Brian Allen, are on the outside here, but those decisions could go either way. Allen helped his cause with a forced fumble and an open-field tackle to save a first down in the third preseason game.
Boswell made all but two kicks throughout camp. He appears to have his confidence back. Punter Ian Berryman has a big leg, but Berry just signed a two-year extension and hasn't done anything drastic to lose the job.