Steel City Underground presents our 2019 Steelers Recall: a look back at Pittsburgh Steelers games and storylines from last season.
Following the summer of training camp sessions and four preseason games, it was now time to see who made the final cut for the Steelers 53-man regular season roster.
Heading into the weekend there were several position battles which were highlighted throughout the aforementioned events…
Who would be the backup quarterback?
What initially began as a competitive battle between Mason Rudolph and Joshua Dobbs had led to many believing that Dobbs could even be cut, or traded, based on the performance of a fourth quarterback at camp, the undrafted Devlin Hodges.
Hodges wouldn’t make the roster, initially, and Rudolph was quickly named the backup to Ben Roethlisberger, but Dobbs would also remain for the time being.
Which receivers would get released?
Aside from JuJu Smith-Schuster nothing was a given.
A number of pass catchers were vying for few spots on the depth chart. Among them were veterans Donte Moncrief and Eli Rogers, second-year pick James Washington, Ryan Switzer (who was acquired in a trade the previous season), and rookie Diontae Johnson led the already crowded pack which also featured journeyman Johnny Holton and CFL standout turned preseason phenom Diontae Spencer.
In the end, we saw the team go with the status quo; the biggest surprise being the release of Rogers.
The pecking order on defense
It was quite obvious who would make the roster in the linebacker corps, but it was interesting to see if Anthony Chickillo would be named a primary backup on the outside.
Preseason surprise Tuzar Skipper made the roster but would be released right after as more roster moves were made, while Ola Adeniyi did just enough to make the cut as well.
Another rumbling was how rookie Devin Bush could be used. Would the Steelers play free agent acquisition Mark Barron more often and ease the rookie in? And how would Bush and Barron’s presence factor into Vince Williams’ playing time?
In the defensive backfield the questions at cornerback were finally solved, but one of those corners was biting and clawing to stick to the roster: former first round draft pick Artie Burns.
It’s hard to believe it right now, but Chris Boswell was nearly gone around this time last year. He opted to allow the team to move his roster bonus, which was a sizeable number, to before the start of the season; otherwise he may have been an early cap casualty.
Boswell impressed enough during the preseason to earn a second chance with the team following a poor 2018 season.
The Practice Squad
Rounding out the ten players on the Steelers practice squad were some familiar faces from last season, plus a few new ones.
TE Christian Scotland-Williamson, a player involved with the NFL's International Player Pathway program made the cut, but due to his program exemption, did not count against the 10-player league limit for practice squads.
Seventh round pick Derwin Gray, LB Robert Spillane, TE Kevin Rader, and OL Patrick Morris rounded out the rest, but Johnny Holton was brought back in an announcement that took an extra day than the rest.