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2016 Camp Questions: Will Gradkowski Be There Opening Day?

Bruce Gradkowski Steelers hamstring

Training camp is now upon us, in case you have failed to take notice. The Pittsburgh Steelers reported to Latrobe on July 28, and began practicing the following day in preparation for their first preseason game on August 12, and eventually, for the 2016 regular season in April.

Every NFL season is like an investigation of sorts, with the offseason and preseason serving as the fact-finding portion, gathering the questions that are most prudent to ask in order to understand the story of the team in the current season. And it is in training camp that we really begin to start finding the answers to those questions.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in training camp and the preseason looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they head into a regular season in which they are among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

Question: Will Bruce Gradkowski be on the 53-man roster to start the 2016 regular season?

It’s a pretty legitimate question, considering he wasn’t there last year, and he was signed back to the team relatively late in the offseason this year. Will Bruce Gradkowski be on the 53-man roster when the Steelers open the 2016 regular season?

You will notice that I left some wiggle room in my answer there, leaving open the possibility that he is not on the roster to start the year, but is later added. The impetus for the question arose last night after Gradkowski entered and then promptly exited the Steelers’ preseason opener.

The veteran quarterback took the field with the team’s offense in the second half and scrambled twice, the second time for a first down, but that second slide cost him, as he got up gingerly, and then called a timeout before taking another snap.

He then pulled himself from the game, as he seemingly pulled a hamstring. Gradkowski later told reporters that he felt something pop in his leg when he slid, and is going to have to get an MRI in order to determine the nature and extent of the injury that made his preseason debut a highly brief one.

Agitating the situation is the fact that the Steelers seem to like the potential of second-year quarterback Dustin Vaughan, who wrapped up the game for Gradkowski after he left. Though the offense wasn’t terribly successful with him under center, he showed some intriguing mobility in the pocket to escape pressure several times, and had a rapport with Cobi Hamilton.

Depending on the severity of Gradkowski’s hamstring injury, he may not be ready to start the regular season, and if that is the case, the door is open for Vaughan. Gradkowski just signed a veteran-minimum contract, so it’s not as though there is much of a risk in cutting him. Though it’s highly unfortunate to see him injured after the year he went through in 2015.

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