Yes, we said initial. The official roster will change the Monday after opening day. Then it will change again after the bye week. Aside from anything else injury-related, it will also change yet again after the short-term IR (Injured Reserve) is up after, we believe, eight weeks.
The original proposal for the new rule was for the amount of time mentioned, and was only for players with a "major injury" who were placed on IR after 1600 hours EST Tuesday, September 4 or thereafter during the season, in order to be reactivated at a later time. Which would seem to be perfect for David DeCastro since his diagnosis dictated that he could potentially return in "3-5 months."
The way things had been going with regard to injuries, though, the Steelers may not put DeCastro on eight week IR just yet. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert concurs.
"The new rule will allow us to bring one person back from injured reserve once we put that person on injured reserve," Colbert said. "And DeCastro may be a candidate for that, we're not decided at this point. Right now, David will be carried on our active roster and we'll move forward from there."
Colbert's comments mean the Steelers will wait until after week one to re-sign a player, perhaps Trai Essex. By doing so they wouldn't have to guarantee that players' full salary for the year. If it is Essex, being that he's a vested veteran, he isn't subjected to the waiver process and was simply released. Most likely won't receive any offer sheet. (Let's be real, he's most likely staring at his phone right now trying to Jedi Mind Trick Colbert into calling him.)
Sean Spence is another story. He tore several knee ligaments and is done for the year along with David Johnson. Depth at linebacker and offensive line are both a concern. So, with these three men down, and with Max Starks, James Harrison and Jason Worilds being limited in the first game of the season and Stevenson Sylvester down for four weeks, players like Mike Adams, Chris Carter, and Adrian Robinson have to show that they're ready for prime time.
Most of the roster spots were a given, naturally. If we'd gotten someone like No. 7 or No. 43 wrong we'd be turning in our keys to the Steeler Nation executive restroom. But a Mortty Ivy over a Brandon Johnson or a Jamie McCoy over a David Paulson is excusable. Ivy had to be waived/injured because of a left hamstring or he and Robinson would be your eighth and ninth LBs instead. It also made Marshall McFadden the obvious choice for the practice squad linebacker.
Another area where we were wrong was at the wide receiver spot and the safety spot. First, we gambled and went with five wide receivers instead of going with our gut and penciling in four. We thought David Gilreath had shown enough to merit a fifth spot. We didn't even have seventh round draft pick Limas Sweed, er uh, Toney Clemons making the P.S., but he evidently showed enough to be kept.
We then selected Cromartie-Smith over Robert Golden and put Terrence Frederick on the P.S. The Steelers went with ballhawk Golden and his versatility-he can play both free safety and cornerback and may not be cut once Ryan Clark comes back but would simply play both positions when needed throughout the season.
Also kept were Josh Victorian, who benefitted from the injury sustained by Terry Carter, and offensive lineman Ryan Lee. (For some reason I think of Lenny from "Of Mice And Men" when I think of him: big and burly corn-fed mauler who's just as kind as he wants to be off the field...just without the "loving" little animals to death.)
Without further ado, here is your initial 2012 Steelers roster in photo format by Matt Vargo, listed by position, followed by our injury-adjusted eight member practice squad and the actual squad:
ADJUSTED 8-man Practice Squad projection: LB M.McFadden, WR/KR Gilreath, DL C.Bryant, OL R.Lee, CB T.Frederick, S D.Cromartie-Smith, RB J.Harris & OL J.Malecki
The actual eight players were offensive linemen John Malecki and Ryan Lee, wide receivers David Gilreath and Toney Clemons, tight end Jamie McCoy, linebacker Marshall McFadden, safety Damon Cromartie-Smith and cornerback Josh Victorian.