When it comes to preseason football and 90-man rosters, it is far from out of the ordinary that we might not see every player that is dressed for the game actually have the opportunity to get into the game. Just because a player may not end up playing in a particular game does not necessarily allude to some sort of storyline behind it.
I will say, however, that I found it rather interesting that second-year Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Roosevelt Nix was conspicuously absent from the game against the Eagles last night, and that was after he saw very little time as well in the team’s first preseason game against the Lions.
It is not simply that the Steelers were more focused on throwing the ball because they were playing from behind for virtually the entire game, of course. The Steelers did only run two snaps out of a two-back set, but on those two occasions, they used h-back David Johnson in the role of the fullback or motion blocker.
I also went ahead and took a lot at all of the special teams snaps throughout the game, both kickoffs and kick returns, punt coverage and punt returns, field goals and extra point attempts. As best I could tell—and admittedly, without access to coaches’ film views during the preseason, there is a margin for error—it does not appear that he even participated in that aspect of the game. I am not certain that he even dressed at all.
This, to me, is interesting because of what it says about his status with the team, in spite of the fact that he is only entering his second season as a former Reserve/Future signing with a relatively limited role in 2015. Unless there is some sort of undisclosed injury, his absence from this game suggests that his roster spot is already fairly secure.
That claim should not come with a great deal of surprise, as he is, after all, the only pure fullback on the roster, with Johnson the only other one capable of occupying that role if necessary. If you also consider the upheaval and uncertainty that is currently plaguing the tight end position, then it makes all the more sense that a blocker of his abilities that he has shown thus far might already be comfortably employed.
What this tells me is that the Steelers already regard Nix as a known quantity, and that there is still a great deal that they need to learn about the rest of the fringe pieces on their roster. in particular, there has been some shuffling about the linebacker ranks since last season, and they are working to determine who will be able to contribute.
I suspect that we will see Nix in the lineup for at least a handful of snaps later this week in the Steelers’ third preseason game, during which most of the starters should be on the field. Whether or not he will participate on special teams is another matter, however, given how much they have yet to learn about certain other players at the bottom of the roster.