Steelers release Hartwig, 10 others
What had become obvious over the final two weeks of the preseason became official Saturday when the Steelers set their 53-man roster.
The Steelers released Justin Hartwig, who had started 35 consecutive games at center, clearing the way for rookie first-round draft pick Maurkice Pouncey to become the starter.
Pouncey will be the first position player to open the regular season as a starter under fourth-year coach Mike Tomlin.
The Steelers had originally planned to play Pouncey at right guard and eventually move the 6-foot-4, 304-pounder to center. But Pouncey performed so well at center after opening training camp at guard that Hartwig became expendable.
The Steelers tried to trade Hartwig for a draft pick but were unable to get anything for the nine-year veteran.
There were no real surprises among the 10 other players the Steelers released to get to the 53-man limit, though four of those cut opened the 2009 season with the team.
The Steelers parted ways with Stefan Logan, who played his way onto the team last year with a spectacular preseason and then finished second in the AFC in kickoff returns (26.7 yards per return).
They also cut outside linebacker Patrick Bailey, who had been one of their best special-team players the past two seasons but fell victim to a numbers crunch. The Steelers took three linebackers in the 2010 draft, and all of them made the 53-man roster.
Joe Burnett also found himself on the wrong side of the cut line. He was the odd man out among cornerbacks vying to make the Steelers.
Logan, Bailey and Burnett are not eligible for the practice squad, which the Steelers will assemble today.
Along with Bailey, the Steelers cut two other players from their 2009 draft class, including guard Kraig Urbik, their second pick (third round) and fullback Frank Summers.
Summers qualified as the closest thing to a fullback that the Steelers had on their roster before yesterday.
The late push made by rookie running back Jonathan Dwyer — he led the Steelers in rushing (183 yards) during the preseason, mostly on what he did in the final games — nudged Summers off the roster.
Also among the players released the Steelers were second-year wide receiver Tyler Grisham, who played four games last season; defensive end Sunny Harris; safety Da'Mon Cromartie; and defensive tackles Steve McLendon and Doug Worthington.
Of the 10 draft picks the Steelers made in April, Worthington, a seventh-rounder, is the only one that is not with the team. He could be signed to the practice squad.
Eight rookies made the Steelers' 53-man roster, and offensive line Chris Scott, a fifth-round pick, is on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list through the first six weeks of the regular season.