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Pittsburgh Steelers cut-down analysis
- Updated: August 31, 2012
Most significant move: The Steelers are going with undrafted rookie Drew Butler (son of former NFL kicker Kevin Butler) as their punter. Injuries essentially forced this move. Pittsburgh parted ways with Daniel Sepulveda in the offseason because he couldn’t stay healthy and waived Jeremy Kapinos on Friday after a back issue sidelined him this summer. Butler averaged 45.9 yards a punt this preseason and placed six of his 28 punts inside the 20-yard line. The other noteworthy move was keeping Charlie Batch, who was not expected to see his 11th season with Pittsburgh after Byron Leftwich won the backup job. The Steelers decided to keep three quarterbacks and just four wide receivers. Chris Rainey, who has lined up in the slot this preseason, is a hybrid running back-receiver.
Onward and upward:
Pittsburgh should have no problem signing David Gilreath to the practice squad. If the Steelers went with a fifth receiver, it would have been Gilreath. He separated himself from an undistinguished group of reserve receivers with four catches for 78 yards in the second preseason game. The other benefit of keeping Gilreath is his ability as a returner. He led Wisconsin in punt and kickoff returns two years ago and could be promoted if Rainey got injured. Receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders can return kicks as well.
The Steelers may address depth at inside linebacker after placing rookie third-round pick Sean Spence on injured reserve Friday. With Stevenson Sylvester out for a couple of weeks with a torn MCL, Pittsburgh is down to former Bengals linebacker Brandon Johnson as the top backup inside. The Steelers could bring back Trai Essex, after cutting the eight-year veteran Friday, when they place first-round pick David DeCastro on injured reserve Tuesday, allowing the team to activate DeCastro after eight weeks under the new IR rule. Pittsburgh is expected to waive rookie tight end David Paulson after Weslye Saunders serves his four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.