Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Stevenson Sylvester did not play Saturday night in the preseason loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and it marked the second consecutive game that he has missed since injuring his ankle in the first game against the New York Giants. With so much playing time now lost, you have to wonder if Sylvester will ultimately make the 53 man roster at this point.
During the 2013 NFL Draft, linebackers coach Keith Butler was asked if this year is a make-or-break year for the Steelers former fifth-round draft pick and his answer was as straight forward as it could be.
“No doubt for him,” said Butler. “He knows that. That is something I talked to him about at the end of the season. I talked to all of them about this at the end of the season. It doesn’t matter the reason that you are not on the field. If you are hurt like LaMarr Woodley, he was hurt. It doesn’t matter the reason that he wasn’t on the field, he just wasn’t on the field.
“We have to remedy where that reason is and the same thing with Sly. Sly was injured. We had little nagging injuries here and there. We had a few of those last year. We have to eliminate those and keep ourselves in position where we are available and can play during the year and not be sitting on the sideline watching the game with me because they have an injury. So we have to do things to try and correct that if we can.”
Sylvester, who missed three preseason games last year because of a knee injury suffered in training camp, played all of one snap on defense during the 2012 regular season. That just so happens to be the same number of snaps he’s played so far this preseason. While the ankle injury he suffered was unfortunate and a result of friendly fire, Sylvester certainly seems to be injury prone.
When you consider that the Utah product is not under contract past this season, you have to think the Steelers are seriously considering going with a younger player now who is and that has more long-term upside.
With Sylvester sidelined Saturday night, Brian Rolle played alongside Marshall McFadden when the second team defense hit the field. Rolle, who was originally drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, would figure to be the linebacker with the best chance of knocking Sylvester off the roster. It probably doesn’t hurt that Rolle also went to Ohio State which is of course a college that Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau monitors very closely.