Contrary to what anyone might be telling you, Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey is not eligible for the Reserve/PUP after breaking a bone in his leg in Sunday’s preseason win over the Green Bay Packers.
Now that we have that misnomer out of the way, you should know that the Steelers really only have two options with Pouncey moving forward. The first and most unlikely option for the Steelers would be to carry Pouncey on the 53 man roster until he’s healthy enough to play again.
The second option, and the one the Steelers are likely to choose, includes them placing Pouncey on injured reserve with the designated to return tag. That move, however, can’t be made until the Tuesday after the final roster cuts are made. In other words, Pouncey will need to be on the initial 53 man roster for a few days prior to him being placed on injured reserve with the designated to return tag.
Now that we have the procedurals out of the way, you can see that the Steelers upcoming roster maneuvering figures to be tricky during the few days leading up to their first regular season game. With Pouncey holding up one spot, the team might very well need to keep at least another eight offensive linemen on their initial 53 man roster and maybe even nine more in total. Keep in mind that Mike Adams is currently on the Active PUP list, so unless he is removed from there before the final cuts, he will likely be moved to the Reserve PUP list and thus won’t be part of the final 53. We have a few more weeks to worry about that, however, so keep that in the back of your mind.
Should the Steelers initial 53 have 10 offensive linemen on it (including Pouncey), that’s one less spot the team will have to dedicate to either a 10th linebacker, a 6th cornerback, or a 5th safety. In other words, Pouncey’s injury could wind up costing players such as linebacker Anthony Chickillo a shot at making the initial final 53 man roster.
If Pouncey’s injury isn’t enough to potentially mess up the roster numbers, we’ll also need to monitor the situation with Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt closely over the course of the next few weeks. Tuitt, who injured his ankle Sunday, is expected to miss the rest of the preseason and his type of injury could wind up keeping him sidelined for the regular season opener. Now, the Steelers usually only keep six defensive linemen in total and one of those six is usually a gameday inactive, so as long as none of the other starters on the defensive line get injured between now and the end of the preseason, maybe the numbers won’t be affected at that position.
Because he’s not a superior special teams player, Chickillo is probably the biggest loser when it comes to Pouncey getting injured. Carrying 10 linebackers is a luxury and that luxury is now in danger.