From Stillers Blog, by Ken Laird....

The Steelers are back to work here on Wednesday at their South Side facility, beginning a "mock" game week with the dress rehearsal preseason game coming up Sunday night in Denver.

While this is a game that will focus on the starters, likely well into the 3rd quarter, we are 10 days away from the 53-man roster chop date. Here's the way I see things shaping up at this point:

QUARTERBACK
LOCKS (3*): Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich, Dennis Dixon, Charlie Batch (Will count as 3 with Ben on suspension through at least Week 5)

-I do think the team will keep Batch. They could roll the dice with 2 QBs (Randle El as an emergency guy), but the risk of injury to Byron and Dixon is fairly significant given the offensive line and Dixon's style of play. They'll bite the bullet and pay Charlie his guaranteed veteran salary.

RUNNING BACK
LOCKS (2): Rashard Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore
LIKELY (2): Issac Redman, Frank Summers
QUESTION MARKS (1): Jonathan Dwyer
DOUBTFUL (2): Justin Vincent, Dewayne Wright

-Dwyer still has a chance, but he needs two nice weeks of practice and an impressive showing in the 4th preseason game. The team knows he can run, it's just the other facets of his game that are way behind (pass protection, special teams, etc). The thing is, the Steelers could use a nice complimentary back two years down the road, so is Tank Summers worth keeping in exchange for the risk of losing Dwyer to another NFL team?

WIDE RECEIVER
LOCKS (3): Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Antwaan Randle El
LIKELY (1): Emmanuel Sanders
QUESTION MARKS (3): Antonio Brown, Arnaz Battle, Stefan Logan
DOUBTFUL (2): Tyler Grisham, Brandon London

-Our Steelers insider Ed Bouchette has reported that at least one prominent offensive coach isn't satisfied with Antonio's mental game (route running, playbook grasp). However, he's got talent, and don't the Steelers need Brown and Sanders to replace Ward and Randle El in a few years? My hunch is Brown will make it, with Battle and Logan dueling for the final roster spot. The team likes Logan as a return man, but is this luxury worth keeping in favor of a solid veteran backup WR? If Ward goes down, is Sanders ready to contribute without Arnaz around?

TIGHT END
LOCKS (2): Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth
LIKELY (1): David Johnson
DOUBTFUL (2): Sean McHugh, Eugene Bright

TACKLE
LOCKS (2): Max Starks, Flozell Adams
LIKELY (1): Jonathan Scott
QUESTION MARKS (1): Tony Hills
DOUBTFUL (2): Kyle Jolly, Adrian Jones

-Hills has impressed, albeit against backups, in his preseason action. It's about time in year #3. And while it seems unlikely the team would keep two backup tackle-only guys in Scott and Hills, the Flozell experiment has not produced convincing returns as of yet. It looks like Scott and Hills could very well make the squad, if the team can free up a spot by releasing center Justin Hartwig.

GUARD
LOCKS (3): Chris Kemoeatu, Trai Essex, Ramon Foster
LIKELY (1): Doug Legursky
QUESTION MARKS (1): Kraig Urbik
DOUBTFUL (1): Dorian Brooks

Urbik and Legursky can both play center as well, but only one will make the squad. Urbik seems practice squad likely.

CENTER
LOCKS (1): Maurkice Pouncey
LIKELY (1): Doug Legursky
QUESTION MARKS (2): Justin Hartwig, Kraig Urbik

-Hartwig is set to make $2 million this year, but with Pouncey coming hard releasing the veteran is a definite possibility. They could ask Hartwig to take reps at guard, but Justin last played there for only one week while with Carolina in the spring of 2008, and was then released. There were some rumblings from Carolina that Hartwig balked at making the position switch at that time, so would he move to guard here if the coaches asked him to do so now? It really comes down to Hartwig vs. Hills, and it likely depends on how solid Pouncey looks Sunday night in Denver.

NOSE TACKLE
LOCKS (1): Casey Hampton
LIKELY (1): Chris Hoke
DOUBTFUL (1): Scott Paxson

DEFENSIVE END
LOCKS (3): Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood
LIKELY (1): Nick Eason
QUESTION MARKS (3): Sunny Harris, Steve McLendon, Doug Worthington

-A roster spot on defense looks to be a fight between Harris, LBs Bailey and Sylvester, and CBs Butler and Madison. Harris is still a project, but he has great promise for a team where Smith, Keisel, and Eason are in their 30's. Plus, Eason is coming off a serious offseason health issue. My hunch is they keep Harris, and keep 7 defensive linemen.

INSIDE LINEBACKER
LOCKS (4): James Farrior, Lawrence Timmons, Larry Foote, Keyaron Fox
QUESTION MARKS (1): Stevenson Sylvester
DOUBTFUL (1): Renauld Williams

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER
LOCKS (2): James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley
LIKELY (2): Jason Worilds, Thaddeus Gibson
QUESTION MARKS (1): Patrick Bailey
DOUBTFUL (1): Brandon Renkart

--Sly has been impressive, but does he have a role on this team? He has to show he's a special teams demon in the 4th preseason game. Bailey knows the defense, and could play OLB with the main defense in a pinch. He also has been a core special teams guy for the last two seasons, but is that faint praise for a team that had major coverage issues last year? My hunch is both Sly and Bailey are cut, with Sylvester headed for the taxi squad. Both Worilds and Gibson are bordering on locks to make the team, the 2nd round pick more so than the 4th rounder of course. However, Bailey could edge Gibson to the squad, too.

CORNERBACK
LOCKS (4): Ike Taylor, Bryant McFadden, Keenan Lewis, William Gay
LIKELY (1): Joe Burnett
QUESTION MARKS (2): Anthony Madison, Crezdon Butler
DOUBTFUL (1): Dexter Pittman

-Madison makes it for special teams, Butler goes to the squad.

SAFETY
LOCKS (4): Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Will Allen, Ryan Mundy
DOUBTFUL (2): Justin Thornton, Da'mon Cromartie-Smith

SPECIALISTS
LOCKS (2): Daniel Sepulveda, Jeff Reed
QUESTION MARKS (2): Greg Warren, Matt Stewart

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