Examining the Pittsburgh Steelers' roster:
I felt going into the finale preseason game that Jones had to play his way off the roster. The second-year man didn't do that and the Steelers will give the 2013 fourth-round pick another season as the No. 3 quarterback.
RUNNING BACKS (4)
Josh Harris and Stephen Houston each had a nice run Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers. But neither got the kind of work that leads you to believe the Steelers are seriously considering one of them as a No. 4 running back. The question is which one will they keep for the practice squad.
WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
Bryant's shoulder injury, which is signficant, clinches the Steelers keeping six wide receivers. Heyward-Bey really emerged in the second half of the preseason and I see the sixth-year veteran not only making the team but also getting a helmet on game days. Justin Brown is the odd man out here if the Steelers only keep five wide receivers.
TIGHT ENDS (3)
Palmer isn't flashy but he blocks and is a solid contributor on special teams. Neither David Paulson nor rookie Rob Blanchflower did enough in the preseason finale to move past him. Blanchflower, a seventh-round pick, heads to the practice squad.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)
Offensive line coach Mike Munchak will push for nine here. If he gets his wish Guy Whimper makes it for another season. If not Johnson, a rookie fifth-round pick, beats out the nine-year veteran because of his upside and versatility.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6)
McCullers, thought to be a project, has been a pleasant surprise. The rookie sixth-round pick is a lock to make the team. Defensive end Josh Mauro, an undrafted rookie, makes the 53-man roster if the Steelers keep seven defensive linemen. If not the Steelers will try to sneak the Stanford product onto the practice squad.
Jones is the surprise here, and the undrafted rookie makes it over fourth-year veteran Chris Carter because of his ability to play special teams and his upside. I really want to put Jordan Zumwalt on the 53-man roster and the rookie sixth-round pick is a candidate for short-term injured reserve, which the Steelers can use on one player. The guess is that the Steelers take the small risk of waiving Zumwalt, who hasn't played since the preseason opener because of a groin injury, and then signing the UCLA product to the practice squad.
Richardson only played 17 snaps in two games before hurting his knee, and the rookie fifth-round pick is in a similar situation as Zumwalt. The Steelers keep him because they desperately need to develop some young cornerbacks.
The Steelers have a tough cut to make if they only keep four safeties. Golden has more upside but Allen is a dependable veteran. Both are good special teams players. I think both make the 53-man roster.
Coach Mike Tomlin seems to be high on Wing, who has been the Steelers' only punter since the start of training camp. Consistency was an issue for him in the preseason and the Steelers could keep a close eye on the waiver wire even if Wing makes the 53-man roster. We also may have not heard the last from veteran Adam Podlesh, who has yet to report to the Steelers because of a family matter.