Now that we have completed our look at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 90-man roster heading into training camp a bit under a month from now, it’s time to take a look back at the team’s 53-man roster from last year’s regular season, for the purpose of revisiting the contributions of the players that are no longer with the team, and whether or not those contributions have been adequately replaced.
Roster turnover is just a natural fact of today’s NFL, which have only become more prominent since the advent of free agency more than two decades ago. It’s very rare for a team to return all 11 starters on one side of the ball from one year to the next, let alone to do so for both the offense and defense.
The Steelers are certainly no exception to that rule, and they figure to have a number of lineup changes from 2015 to 2016, which seems to be increasingly common for them in recent years.
Doug Legursky was once a much bigger piece of the Steelers’ roster than he was last year. He started a Super Bowl at center during the 2010 season. Last year, he was limited to three total snaps. He took two snaps at center for a pair of kneel downs to end a game during the regular season. He lined up at fullback for one play during the playoffs. The rest of his time was spent on the bench.
Of course, his signing was only made necessary due to the fact that the Steelers’ starting center, All-Pro Maurkice Pouncey, suffered a fractured fibula during the preseason. The injury was not initially anticipated to end his season—the team placed him on injured reserve with a return designation—but a number of complications, including infections, determined otherwise.
Legursky was a free agent in August, as he was recovering from a season-ending injury of his own that he suffered while playing with the Chargers last year. With Steelers veteran reserve Cody Wallace forced to move up into the starting lineup, they need options, and some semblance of experience, behind them.
Still, even with Legursky present, it was Chris Hubbard who served as the team’s primary backup for the majority of the season, though the interior offensive line more or less remained healthy for the entire regular season, which was quite fortunate given the circumstances with which they entered the year.
He was active for 11 games, but, as mentioned, played a limited role for the team, and he is currently a free agent now that Pouncey has returned, and certainly appears to be ready to go. Hubbard and Wallace are expected to serve as the team’s top interior backups.
B.J. Finney, however, also intends to make himself an option in that competition, to go along with Hubbard and Wallace, and that would require, most likely, one of them losing their jobs, since it is unlikely that they would carry six interior offensive linemen.