2016 South Side Questions: Could Steelers Really Carry Two QBs?

Bruce Gradkowski Steelers hamstring

Training camp has ended, and the Pittsburgh Steelers have reverted back to taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While training camp might have seen a lot of work put into the team and the roster, there is plenty left to be done.

And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well, since training camp is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is really one that lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in 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, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

Question: Might the Steelers finally have no good choice but to carry two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster?

Time is running out, and it won’t be long before the Steelers will have to make their 53-man roster that they will bring into the regular season. Seemingly by company policy, the team has been resolute on carrying three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, but heading into the 2016 season, they find themselves decidedly lacking in satisfactory options.

There is, of course, Ben Roethlisberger on the top of the depth chart, and Landry Jones by now seems well-ensconced in the role as his backup, but as to what other options they have behind them, that remains to be seen.

It largely hinges on the health of veteran Bruce Gradkwoski, who was Roethlisberger’s backup in 2013 and 2014, in spite of the fact that he never had to play during the regular season due to injuries, and he would have been the backup last year had he not gotten injured.

But the veteran is injured again, saying that he heard a ‘pop’ in his hamstring as he slid following a scramble during the middle of the Steelers’ first preseason game. The Steelers lost a kicker, Garrett Hartley, due to a significant hamstring injury as well last year.

But you can’t carry an injured kicker, as there’s only one. They could carry Gradkowski injured—but they don’t have to. And it might make sense not to, if his injury will take some time. As a vested veteran and an injured player, he is unlikely to be signed by another team, nor would he be subject to waivers.

He could have a handshake agreement to return, as when the Steelers released Byron Leftwich for one game only to re-sign him after the game, in order to promote Steve McLendon from the practice squad due to positional need. It also might be added that after Dennis Dixion was injured that year, in 2010, the Steelers had only two quarterbacks on the roster for a game or two.

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