Steelers release two draft picks to reduce roster to 53 players

The Steelers released five draft picks Saturday, including two from this year, to reduce their roster to 53 players.

Cornerback Shaquille Richardson and tight end Rob Blanchflower, who were selected in the fifth and seventh rounds in May, were among the 22 players the Steelers cut.

Richardson, who missed the final two preseason games with a knee injury, was the only cornerback the Steelers drafted this year, but he could not unseat veterans Brice McCain or Antwon Blake. Blanchflower, hampered by an ankle injury early in camp, could not beat out veterans Matt Spaeth or Michael Palmer for a roster spot.

The Steelers also cut outside linebacker Chris Carter, a fifth-round pick in 2011; tight end David Paulson, a seventh-round pick in 2012; and defensive end Nick Williams, a seventh-round pick in 2013.

Carter played in 29 games for the Steelers and made four starts, but he fell out of favor with the coaching staff after not progressing in his fourth training camp.

Paulson played in 32 games the past two seasons and started nine, but he became expendable when fullback Will Johnson added tight-end duties to his resume this year.

Williams, who spent last season on injured reserve, had a hard time coming back from his knee injury.

Others who were released Saturday were tight end/long snapper Bryce Davis; cornerbacks Isaiah Green and Dayonne Nunley; safety Ross Ventrone; running backs Josh Harris and Stephen Houston; defensive linemen Ethan Hemer, Josh Mauro and Roy Philon; linebackers Howard Jones and Dan Molls; receivers Derek Moye and Lanear Sampson; and offensive linemen Graham Pocic, Will Simmons and Guy Whimper.

The Steelers elected to keep nine offensive linemen and six receivers, which is one more at each position than last year. New offensive line coach Mike Munchak lobbied to keep nine linemen early in training camp, citing the no-huddle offense and the number of different schemes offensive coordinator Todd Haley is asking his players to execute.

Rookie fifth-round draft pick Wesley Johnson and second-year guard Chris Hubbard, who spent last season on the practice squad, beat out veteran Whimper, who had the ability to play guard and tackle. Johnson can play all five offensive-line positions, but he settled in at center in the final few weeks of camp after struggling at tackle. Hubbard strictly has been a guard, although the Steelers used him as a third tight end in the final preseason game against Carolina.

Six receivers are on the 53-man roster. Justin Brown, a sixth-round pick in 2013 who started his college career at Penn State, and Darrius Heyward-Bey, who signed as a free agent in the spring, made it at the expense of former Rochester High School standout Derek Moye, who was one of five receivers to make the roster last season.

The Steelers also elected to keep three quarterbacks again as Landry Jones, a fourth-round pick last year, made the cut despite another rough preseason.

The roster as constituted Saturday might change in the next day or two if the Steelers sign players who were cut from other teams.

One position that could be addressed is outside linebacker.

The Steelers only have three on their roster: starters Jarvis Jones and Jason Worilds and reserve Arthur Moats. They kept five inside linebackers, five safeties, six cornerbacks and six defensive linemen.

The Steelers can add 10 players to their practice squad starting today.

Ray Fittipaldo: and Twitter @rayfitt1.

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