When it comes to depth, the Pittsburgh Steelers have not always been the envy of the league in recent years. Even though I believe they have done a better job over the past year or two of insulating themselves at a few positions, it has been a while since they have been regarded as one of the deepest teams in the league.
But that depth is really being tested over the course of the first couple of months of football action in 2015, and as a result, we’re finding a Steelers team that is, at the moment, paper thin right now.
Of course, there is no better place to start than the quarterback position, where Landry Jones, who had never played a snap in an NFL regular season game before two days ago, is currently the only healthy one on the roster.
Ben Roethlisberger is going to test his knee out this week as he tries to go through a full practice, but Mike Vick has already stated that he believes he is at least a week out from returning after suffering a “tiny tear” in his hamstring.
In the case that Roethlisberger is not set to return, it is a wonder who in the world might be the backup to Jones. Perhaps Roethlisberger might feel well enough to dress as an emergency option as the second quarterback, but I can’t help but feel that if they let him put a uniform on, he’s going to play regardless.
Given that Roethlisberger will be practicing to determine if he can play, I don’t believe bringing in an outsider late in the week just before the game to serve as an emergency quarterback is a likely option. In the event that both Vic and Roethlisberger are out, it is possible that Tyler Murphy is promoted before the game.
At tackle, the Steelers have just lost Kelvin Beachum for the season, meaning that Alejandro Villanueva is no longer the intriguing hopeful, but the starting left tackle. With Mike Adams still seemingly weeks away from returning at best, the team brought in Byron Stingily, a former sixth-round pick with nine starts to his name. The best credential on his resume is that he previously worked under Mike Munchak. And he is one snap away from starting.
It sounds as though Will Allen is still a week out from returning to practice, potentially, which means that Robert Golden, who before this year averaged under 40 snaps per season, will likely continue to start, with just Shamarko Thomas behind him, who has fallen from penciled in starter to emergency option.
Defensive end Stephon Tuitt is nursing a knee injury, and, like Roethlisberger, it will take the week of practice to determine his playing status. Cam Thomas would be his replacement, with L.T. Walton the only reserve end on the roster.
On the bright side, they do have depth, or potential depth, elsewhere. At wide receiver, running back, tight end/fullback, both linebacker spots, and, arguably, cornerback, the Steelers have players not playing, or at least not starting, that they believe can play. But it only takes one weakness to ruin a game plan, and there are several spots on this roster in serious jeopardy of being exposed at the moment.