5 Steelers who secured their roster spot following Week 3 of the preseason

Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts
Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

The preseason schedule is now finished for the Steelers this season and they will look to cut down their roster by 37 players later Tuesday afternoon to meet the requirements of the NFL. There are a ton of talented football players who will hear their names called to the coach's office and have their dreams of making a roster dashed.

Those that haven't performed well enough will be gone by the time official cuts get sent to league offices in New York. The Steelers have some tough decisions that need to be made but these players were able to secure their spot on the final roster this past Thursday. They have proved that they are worthy of making the final roster in Pittsburgh with the kind of preseason they had.

Anthony McFarland Jr. cemented his roster spot with the Steelers

Not a shocker here as Anthony McFarland Jr. was probably going to make this roster no matter the performance he produced against the Atlanta Falcons. He has been the leading candidate for that third string running back spot since training camp opened. The issue at that spot was no competition was ever present on the team.

After Alfonzo Graham got hurt early in training camp, the Steelers could not replace him with quality players to challenge McFarland. Perhaps McFarland's amazing camp and preseason kept the team from feeling the need to press that competition further. One knock on McFarland right now is his poor decision making as a kick returner, but he is an explosive and quick runner. Just something he needs to clean up moving forward.

Tanner Muse bounced back and performed well this preseason

Not everything is going to go to plan in the world of football and that can be seen from a player's performance. Tanner Muse was signed this past offseason during free agency with the idea that he could come in and provide some help on special teams and provide depth. He has done that thus far and solidified his roster spot this past Thursday.

After the addition of Kwon Alexander about a month ago, that inside linebacker group changed. There was a higher level of competition as a higher level was being reached with the top six guys fighting for five spots. Cole Holcomb, Elandon Roberts, Kwon Alexander, and Mark Robinson were all locks to make this roster unless one of them fell apart.

That left Muse and Nick Kwiatkoski battling for the probable final spot available to make this roster. Muse immediately gained the upper hand with his different play style that could provide a better coverage linebacker than Kwiatkoski would ever be able to provide. Both had special teams' ability on their football resumes, but Muse had better quality snaps there.

After a poor performance in the first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Muse was able to bounce back in a big way. He consistently graded out as being one of the better linebackers these past couple of weeks. Add that onto Kwiatkoski struggling with a shoulder injury, and Muse was able to pull ahead to stamp his ticket onto the roster.

Zach Gentry secured a roster spot that was in little danger in Pittsburgh

Would the Steelers keep four tight ends? That will be figured out over the weekend, but it seems safe to say that they will. Connor Heyward is the x-factor here as he continues to prove that he can play multiple positions across the offense. He might be listed as a tight end when the final roster is situated, but he is far more than that.

He will also play fullback and might get a few handoffs at running back too. These are things that he did in college and the Steelers seem keen on using his position versatility to their advantage. With Heyward getting some carries at the half back position in Thursday's game against the Falcons, it seems more likely than not that he will get some carries this year.

With Pat Freiermtuh and Darnell Washington also on the team, it made some curious about what the future holds with Zach Gentry. Adding Heyward's versatility into the equation makes Gentry a little more expendable. He is a great blocker and can make some catches when needed, but he is mostly known as a blocker.

With Washington likely needing some time to develop more at the position before expanding his role as a rookie, having someone like Gentry around is too valuable to let go. He is a liked guy in the locker room and put on a blocking clinic against the Falcons in the preseason finale. Gentry locked up his roster spot that is if it was ever in question in the first place.

Elijah Riley will make the roster with the Steelers but the competition is still going

Slot cornerback has been a competition with two players trying any way to get ahead of each other. Both Chandon Sullivan and Elijah Riley are battling for that prized role on this with neither getting ahead of each other. Both have done some good things in training camp and the preseason contests that they have performed in.

Sullivan is more experienced in the slot role throughout his NFL career whereas Riley has been a safety and has worked his tail off to get his name in the slot role. Sullivan got the early leg up when he signed with the Steelers immediately after the NFL draft. He has done a respectful job thus far and will have a certain role on this team either in the slot or as a depth piece.

Another wrench that works into the fold is Patrick Peterson and what kind of position flexibility he might bring. He is getting older, and it seems like the team envisions him all over their secondary rather than just exclusively on the outside. Many expect him to play a vital role in the slot, which could end up taking snaps away from the victor of the slot competition.

Riley seems like he has been rising up the depth chart this entire time that builds up to the regular season. He is a younger option in a new role and that could end up getting him the job over Sullivan when it all comes down to the final choice. Expect both Riley and Sullivan to make the final roster, but their competition will go up to the final minute before game one against the San Francisco 49ers.

Miles Boykin had his roster spot in question but has done just enough this preseason

The construction of the room at receiver has been a debate for a while when it comes to who will make the final 53-man roster. Most knew that at least five players at the position would make the team, but the debate was if they would keep six or potentially more. It seems likely that they will roll with six players at the position following the game against the Falcons.

The Steelers like to keep a deep receiver room both in numbers and in talent. Everyone knew that Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, and Allen Robinson II were locks to make this team and make big impacts on offense. Calvin Austin III was seen as a near lock after returning from his lower body injury that knocked him out of his rookie year.

That left a couple of spots to be filled out and there were some interesting options that jumped into training camp. None of those interesting receivers were able to make it through the entire preseason process before getting injured. That leaves two guys sticking out like sore thumbs that will probably make the final roster.

Gunner Olszewski is one guy, but Miles Boykin is the other. He has been a solid special teamer for the Steelers since joining the team last year. He has been quiet for most of the preseason, but he has a solid game against Atlanta. He might not be the best receiver in the world, but he possesses what the club needs in the third phase of football.

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