PITTSBURGH -- Here is a position-by-position look at who stays and who goes when the Pittsburgh Steelers make their final cuts.
Jones didn't do enough this preseason to earn the No. 2 quarterback job, but he didn't lose the No. 3 job. Vick has shown in two preseason games that he can be counted on as a reliable backup at age 35. His arm looks live and accurate, though he's lost a step when avoiding sacks. The Steelers can consider him an upgrade over Bruce Gradkowski. Jones gets a third year in the system to improve.
RUNNING BACK (4)
Le'Veon Bell doesn't count against the roster while suspended for two games, and the Steelers will probably take four backs into New England. Johnson can do more than Roosevelt Nix as a natural H-back and thus gets the nod at fullback, even though Nix had a blocked punt Thursday and looks eager to make the team. Harris had a quiet preseason. He didn't show much but makes the team out of necessity.
WIDE RECEIVER (5)
The Steelers will get by with five receivers while Martavis Bryant serves a four-game suspension. There are no surprises with the top four. Heyward-Bey is locked into the No. 3 spot, and the Steelers will give Coates, a 2015 third-round pick, time to develop. At No. 5, Murphy has shown promise in the preseason despite being asked to convert from quarterback to wide receiver, and he edges Shakim Phillips. Murphy could slide to the practice squad once Bryant returns.
TIGHT END (3)
These are the only three tight ends left. The Steelers have moved on from all other tight ends. James is a developmental player, but the fifth-round rookie has good hands and red zone potential. The Steelers have always liked Spaeth's blocking ability. He is slotted as the No. 2. Miller won't disappoint -- 60-plus catches, rinse/repeat.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
The Steelers must carry Pouncey (leg injury) through the final round of cuts but can pick up an extra player once they place him on short-term injured reserve. Undrafted center/guard B.J. Finney could then get a call-up. Otherwise, he's a practice squad option. Either way, I like his game. The Steelers stick with Hubbard because of his flexibility inside. Villanueva can play both tackle spots.
DEFENSIVE LINE (5)
Thomas is a candidate to be released because of his $2 million salary and spotty play in 2014, but he made a few plays Thursday night, and the Steelers are so thin at backup end that they need help there unless they can find a suitable option on waivers. Ethan Hemer is intriguing but probably won't make the team. I haven't seen enough from sixth-round pick L.T. Walton to suggest he's ready.
The Steelers face difficult decisions here, including whether to carry a fifth outside linebacker. The Steelers could go either way with sixth-round pick Chickillo, who flashed more in early training camp practices than in preseason games. But coach Mike Tomlin likes him, and Chickillo did a few nice things Thursday. Howard Jones is a difficult cut at OLB. He was quick to the ball against the Panthers. Inside linebacker is the Steelers' deepest position. If it comes down to Williams or Garvin, Williams' experience could prevail.
Fogg would be a difficult cut, if it came to that, but the Steelers won't part with Grant, a fourth-round pick. They value draft picks too much. The numbers game might keep the Steelers at five corners. Otherwise, Fogg gets the call. The Steelers will part with B.W. Webb, who had a nice pass breakup against the Panthers but never really showed a knack for playmaking during the preseason.
If the Steelers keep these five, they would have to cut Alden Darby, a nice find who's active on special teams and on defense. But Golden and Ventrone are too valuable on special teams, and the Steelers aren't moving Allen. Then there's seventh-round pick Gerod Holliman, who has good ball skills but didn't do enough to separate himself. This group doesn't have any stars but has enough to make it work.
Place-kicker Josh Scobee
Long-snapper Greg Warren
Punter Jordan Berry
Berry got the start Thursday and landed a 48-yard punt inside the 15, and then booted a 55-yarder with plenty of hang time. This will be a difficult decision because incumbent punter Brad Wing has battled. Tomlin says each player made a strong case. But Berry has the bigger leg.