Steelers keeping their cuts secret until Saturday

PITTSBURGH -- In the NFL, where secrecy is commonplace, the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking deception to another level. They're trying to cover up who's on their team, if only for one day.

On Friday, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin held a team meeting with the players who made his season-opening 53-man roster. What he wouldn't say afterward was who was there -- or who wasn't.

The Steelers' final 22 cuts won't be announced until Saturday, when all NFL teams must firm up their rosters.

"I don't want to give the rest of the NFL 24 hours to look at our guys before they deliver theirs," Tomlin said. "We handled the paperwork, we're just going to hang onto the paperwork."

The Steelers' secrecy probably won't work -- no doubt the agents for any players told they weren't on the team immediately put the word out to other NFL teams. According to Tomlin, the Steelers also want to see if anyone else cut around the league might help them.

The Steelers set their roster one day earlier than most teams because they open the season Thursday against the Tennessee Titans, who also didn't announce their cuts.

"From a business standpoint, it's not necessarily prudent to discuss those decisions publicly, to be quite honest," Tomlin said. "We've got another 24 hours here in which we can do some things, manipulate the bottom end of the roster if you will, or maybe even get potential (draft) picks for guys that we maybe think aren't going to be a part of it."

One area of concern is an inexperienced offensive line that could go into the season without a single backup who has any meaningful NFL playing time. The Steelers might be looking to add an experienced lineman who is cut by another team.

"I'm not comfortable, no, but I can't tell you I was comfortable a year ago, and we lost two starters in September and found a way to step up and deliver winning football," Tomlin said. "I'm not necessarily looking for comfort. Comfort is not something that comes with this job."

Despite the Steelers' subterfuge, most of their cuts are fairly predictable. Except, perhaps, for one.

The Steelers might be trying to slide running back Isaac Redman -- the surprise star of training camp - from the active roster to the practice squad. One sign that Redman didn't make the team: Tomlin didn't mention him during a discussion of the potential goal-line backs.

Redman, an undrafted rookie from Bowie State, scored three of the Steelers' five rushing touchdowns during the preseason and had a team-leading 145 yards as the top goal-line runner.

If Redman is out, then fifth-round pick Frank "The Tank" Summers, who was injured most of camp, might be in. Summers did little to play his way onto the team, and Tomlin said last week that the former UNLV player needed to show more. Summers had one carry for four yards in Thursday night's preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers.

Among those expected to be cut are fullback Carey Davis, who didn't play Thursday; former Penn State center A.Q. Shipley, a seventh-round draft pick; and linebacker Bruce Davis, a third-round draft pick last year. Carey Davis started 11 games for Pittsburgh in the last two seasons.

The only Steelers starter who might not be ready for the season opener is linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who wore a protective boot earlier this week because of a high ankle sprain. Timmons visited a doctor Friday, and Tomlin said the linebacker's status won't be known until next week.

Tomlin knows much of the pregame attention likely will be focused on several Titans players stomping on Terrible Towels during Tennessee's 31-14 victory on Dec. 21 -- the Steelers' only defeat in their final 10 games, including the playoffs.

But don't look for any pregame rhetoric from Tomlin urging revenge for the towel tromping.

"What the '08 Steelers did is history, and it's no different than the '74-'75 Steelers as far as I'm concerned," Tomlin said. "I'm not going to concern myself with something (Titans running back) LenDale White did a year ago. I'm sure Billy 'White Shoes' Johnson did something that could be viewed as disgraceful back when he played for the Oilers (the forerunner of the Tennessee franchise, back in the 1970s)."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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