Roster Cutdown A Tough Time For A Steelers Coach

"It's Always A Sad Moment For Anybody"

Eric Hagman
August 29, 2018 - 9:36 am
Josh Dobbs and Randy Fichtner

93.7 The Fan

Pittsburgh (93.7 The Fan) - By 4 p.m. Saturday the Steelers will have reduced their roster to the 53-player limit.  With one preseason game still to be played, perhaps only a few decisions have yet to be made, but that doesn't necessarily make the process any easier for longtime assistant and first-year offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner.

"It's always a sad moment for anybody," Fichtner said.  "Heck, I'm going to be sad for all the guys that have given their hard work for us."

Heading into Thursday's game vs the Carolina Panthers, Fichtner stresses to his players that the evaluation process is not over.

"Really, it comes down to an accumulation (of work), but I'm wishing the best for every one of those guys because they've given their heart and soul.  This is their dream.  If someone jumped off the map and all of a sudden did something that was ultra-special, I might kick myself in the butt that he didn't maybe get more opportunity earlier, but it's definitely going to put a light in your eye and you're going to be excited."

While Fichtner runs the offense, he also still carries the title of quarterbacks coach.  It is within that 4-man group that a decision awaits.

"Generally as a rule we've kept three," Fichtner said.  "Everyone knows that something could be happening, but we just ask everyone to attack every day, every rep, get better, get better and don't concern yourself with all the other (outside speculation).  

Among the media and fans, it is widely believed that last year's fourth-round pick Josh Dobbs will end up the odd man out to Landry Jones and this year's third-rounder Mason Rudolph as backups to Ben Roethlisberger.  Fichtner said Dobbs has shown significant improvement in a year's time, that his intelligence has carried over to making plays on the field.  

"All he's cared about is improving, " Fichtner said of Dobbs, who will start on Thursday.  "I watch him pay attention and take the mental reps.  I saw the effort he gave last week knowing he wasn't playing.  He's one of the hard worker that's always in the office.  I can't kick him out of my office, and it's starting to pay off for him."

An injury to a quarterback before the season opener could alter plans.  "I've been in this situation before," Fichtner said.  "In some strange way things happen, and we haven't played the last snap of the preseason."

Fichtner was referring to the 2011 preseason when he said Charlie Batch was resigned to being released in favor of Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon as Roethlisberger's backups.  Leftwich, however, suffered a broken arm in the third preseason game and was lost for the season, opening a spot for Batch.

Barring such an injury, Fichtner's work could end up benefitting another NFL team.  That's okay with him.

"Man, I hate to lose anybody," Fichtner said.  "(But) if they've developed and they're worthy you'd like to think they've been auditioning for someone else, too.  It would give me great pride, individually, that they would have an opportunity somewhere else."