When it came to certain positions on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster, it seems the front office took some inspiration from Chuck Noll and his famous adage about it being more difficult to stop cutting than deciding who to cut. The running back and offensive line positions are certainly living this today.
While the Steelers technically cut their roster down to eight offensive linemen, there is a caveat, in that center Maurkice Pouncey will soon revert to the injured reserve list, leaving them with seven. But that was not really the surprise.
The surprise, to me, was the decision to release Doug Legursky, whom the Steelers signed ostensibly in order to fill in for Cody Wallace as the game day reserve interior lineman, with the latter stepping into the starting lineup in Pouncey’s absence.
The only depth interior lineman currently on the roster is Chris Hubbard, a second-year former undrafted free agent who is in his third year with the organization. He made the 53-man roster last season, but spent most of the year inactive.
This preseason, Hubbard struggled mightily, and the team force-feeding him reps at center did not help his struggles. The coaching staff clearly wanted to stretch him out in terms of flexibility in preparation for making the roster.
The Steelers did not exactly have many other options. Their top alternative, B.J. Finney, suffered an ankle injury at the end of the preseason finale, and Reese Dismukes quite simply was even worse than Hubbard.
Legursky did injure his left hand late in the game, on the second play of the final drive, but he never left the field.
He was seen flexing the hand prior to snapping the ball, and one might say that it affected his performance—he gave up a sack on the drive—but we have no knowledge of the extent of the injury, beyond the fact that it was not enough to cause him to leave the field.
Could the injury have influenced his release? Possibly, but we don’t know whether or not that is the case. The Steelers will be adding at least one additional lineman after Pouncey goes on injured reserve, and Legursky may well be brought back.
Of course, should that happen, it would raise the question as to why he would be the one exposed to other teams. Perhaps it is because he is a vested veteran who is not subject to waivers, although one wouldn’t think that Hubbard would get many looks anyway.
Was it just a nod to Hubbard, who had been with the team the entire year, and has been under Mike Munchak for the past two years, while Legursky was just in the process of integrating himself? Could they be waiting to re-sign him after the first game, when his salary would not be guaranteed?
The alternative is that the team simply did not think much of his performance and has no intention of adding him back to the roster. While quite possible, it would certainly make the decision to sign him in the first place odd, as they could have simply kept another interior lineman on the roster that they released.