Steelers roster cuts: QB Batch makes team; lineman Essex does not

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Charlie Batch lives to play football for the Steelers again.

Batch, 37, survived another final cutdown Friday and will play in his 15th NFL season and serve as the No. 3 quarterback behind Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich.

That and the release of veteran offensive lineman Trai Essex were the major moves as the Steelers whittled their roster from 75 to the required 53 as they headed into preparations for the first game of the regular season.

Young quarterback Jerrod Johnson put up a fight in camp and preseason games, leading all the quarterbacks with a 136.4 passer rating. The Steelers had the option of keeping him instead of Batch or putting Johnson on the practice squad and having just two on the roster.

"Traditionally, we've always kept three quarterbacks," general manager Kevin Colbert said on the team's website. "It's the most critical position on the team. ... We're real comfortable knowing we have three veterans who have started in this league."

It's unlikely they will sign Johnson to their eight-man practice squad, which teams are permitted to put together after noon today, because a fourth quarterback cannot get practice time over the regular season.

Also, the Steelers apparently decided that no one played well enough to grab the No. 5 wide receiver position, so they will go with four. It's the same situation at cornerback, where they will keep four instead of the usual five. Instead, they will go with five safeties.

They also released veteran punter Jeremy Kapinos, who had been with them the past two seasons but had back surgery in August, and placed rookie linebacker Sean Spence (knee) on injured reserve.

One move they did not announce was that tight end Weslye Saunders must go on the NFL's suspended list for the first four games.

Also, injured rookie offensive guard David DeCastro will be designated for the one special spot created this week on injured reserve and be eligible to return after eight weeks.

They had to put him on the 53-man roster first, but another player will be added to the roster Monday as a result.

Others released were safety Damon Cromartie-Smith, cornerbacks Terrence Frederick and Josh Victorian, linebackers Brandon Hicks and Marshall McFadden, defensive lineman Corbin Bryant, Ikponmwosa Igbinosun and Jake Stoller, running back DuJuan Harris, wide receivers Derrick Williams, Marquis Maze, Tyler Beiler, David Gilreath and Toney Clemons and offensive linemen Ryan Lee and John Malecki.

Some might return when the Steelers sign their eight-man practice squad today.

As long as they do not make any more moves, trades, etc., before they open in Denver, the Steelers roster will consist of six rookie draft picks (not counting Spence): DeCastro, offensive tackle Mike Adams, nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu, halfback Chris Rainey, tight end David Paulson and offensive guard/tackle Kelvin Beachum.

In addition, three undrafted rookies also made it: Punter Drew Butler, linebacker Adrian Robinson and safety Robert Golden.



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