I didn’t see this one coming…
And, no, I’m not talking about the Patriots cutting Tim Tebow. Can anybody believe we lost a playoff game to that guy?
The Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the first teams to cut down to 75 men. When it came time to set their final 53 man roster, though, they were one of the last. As I waited and waited on Saturday, I immediately grew suspicious. The longer it takes, the more likely it is the team is debating cutting somebody nobody thought would be cut.
Jonathan Dwyer, come on down. Don’t forget to bring your playbook with you.
Looking back, I guess I should’ve seen this coming. The pieces all fit. Despite being the team’s leading rusher last season, Dwyer never really seemed to be in the Steelers’ plans. He never rose above third on the depth chart even when Le’Veon Bell spent more time in the training room than on the field. While he led the team in rushing during the preseason, Dwyer continued to do the things that frustrated the Steelers into drafting Bell in the first place. He ripped off big runs but he also missed obvious running lanes. And then there were the fumbles. Perhaps his ultimate undoing came on Thursday when he fumbled for the second game in a row.
Last year, Mike Tomlin benched any back who fumbled the ball. This year, he cut them.
Dwyer’s departure signals a surprising rise in stock for Felix Jones. Going into Thursday, some of the local media dopes were claiming Jones was on the bubble. Now it looks like he’s going split carries with Isaac Redman as part of some unholy two-headed running monster. Bell is already out of his walking boot so speculation that he’ll be back by week six – The Steelers have four games and a bye to start the year – would seem to be accurate. Redman and Dwyer are basically the same back so it makes sense to get rid of one and keep a quicker, shiftier guy like Jones.
The other notable name to receive his walking papers yesterday was Alameda Ta’amu. Ta’amu was drafted as the heir apparent to Casey Hampton but never showed anything on the field. His most impressive athletic feat since coming to Pittsburgh was sprinting away from cops and then fighting two of them off when they tried to arrest him during his drunken rampage on the South Side. The judge who gave him a slap on the wrist should feel like an asshole right about now. Nice job compromising your integrity for a bust who got beat out by Hebron Fangupo, Judge Yinzer.
I’ve given Steelers GM Kevin Colbert a lot of shit for keeping his horrible draft picks even when they obviously sucked so now I’ll give him credit where it’s due. This year, he didn’t hesitate to ditch poor draft choices who were being outplayed by undrafted signees. Two of this year’s sixth round picks, WR Justin Brown and CB Terry Hawthorne, were cut in favor of undrafted WR Derek Moye and practice squader Isaiah Green.
Moye was by far the most impressive young receiver not named Markus Wheaton. Meanwhile, Green not only outplayed Hawthorne but also cost Josh Victorian his job. Victorian saw playing time last season when Curtis Brown got a shot as the nickel and totally shit the bed. The Steelers kept five corners with Brown some how managing to hold on to his job as the fourth cornerback.
Although that’s not nearly as surprising as the offensive linemen who made the team. Despite abysmal play, both G John Whimper and C John Malecki join super-sub Kelvin Beachum on the second string O-line. I wouldn’t be surprised if Colbert scans the cuts and finds a good veteran backup to replace Whimper over the next couple days. The San Diego Chargers cut our old buddy Max Starks which sent a brief frenzy through the Steelers Twitterverse but I don’t see him being a consideration.
Finally, the Great Punter Battle of ’13 has concluded. Drew Butler fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Young Drew held off a ferocious challenge from veteran Brian Moorman to remain the Black and Gold’s punter. I have no idea what the deciding factor was, nor do I care.
What I do know is the preseason is now officially over. Let’s play some football!