The Pittsburgh Steelers open training camp on July 28 at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Here's a 53-man roster projection:
The Steelers don't need to look for outside help here. Jones is a capable veteran backup, and Dobbs is a developmental rookie who's part of the future plans.
Fitzgerald Toussaint probably will battle with Davis for one of three spots. If special teams determines that spot, Davis' history as a productive return man in Kansas City helps his case. Toussaint's advantage: three years of experience in Pittsburgh's offense. Conner won't be given the No. 2 job behind Bell. He missed most of offseason workouts with a hamstring issue and needs every rep he can get.
FULLBACK (1): Roosevelt Nix
Nix is the only true fullback on the roster, and the Steelers still value the position, even on a part-time basis. Bell likes running with a fullback in certain sets.
This is arguably the Steelers' deepest position, with nine capable players vying for five to seven spots. Demarcus Ayers will be a difficult cut because of his toughness, Cobi Hamilton started eight games last season and Justin Hunter has never played with a quarterback like Roethlisberger. All three could make a strong push in camp. But Heyward-Bey is a Todd Haley favorite, and the Steelers can give Coates a chance to rebuild his confidence.
With Ladarius Green gone, James is the unquestioned starter. Grimble should get more red zone looks in Year 2, and Johnson is a versatile blocker for Roethlisberger and Bell. Phazahn Odom and Scott Orndoff are practice-squad candidates.
One of the league's best offensive lines returns the same starting five for a third season. Hawkins will be a valuable swing tackle after missing all of 2016 with a torn labrum, with Finney the primary interior backup. The wild card is Ethan Cooper, an undrafted rookie out of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He has raw ability but might need a year on the practice squad. The Steelers probably prefer carrying nine linemen, but these eight are solid.
The Steelers typically roll with six linemen for their 3-4 defense. Injuries thrust tackle Johnny Maxey into action last season, and he could push McCullers for a reserve role. Big Dan could use a big camp entering a contract year. Walton appears to be in good shape entering his third season.
The Steelers can keep five inside linebackers because of special teams. Matakevich isn't as athletic as Johnson or Fort but is a hard player to cut. The Steelers' pass rush needs a four- to five-man rotation, which helps Moats' cause despite a $2.25 million base salary in 2017.
Sensabaugh's two-year, $2.6 million free-agency contract with a $425,000 signing bonus should strengthen his job status. That leaves Sutton, fifth-round pick Brian Allen and oft-injured Senquez Golson among those fighting for one, maybe two, spots. Allen seems like a practice-squad candidate, and Sutton might be ready to contribute sooner than later. This is a big camp for Golson.
The Steelers typically like to keep a fifth safety, which proved valuable last season because of injury. Dangerfield has acquitted himself well in spot duty. Stafford comes from Tennessee, where he started eight games since 2015. Golden is a team captain. The Steelers should feel comfortable with this group.
Holba, a sixth-round pick tasked with replacing long-snapper Greg Warren, integrates with trusted legs Berry and Boswell.