If a game were to be played solely by the players within a team’s organization that are sidelined either due to injuries or suspensions, then the Pittsburgh Steelers would have one heck of a leg up on the rest of the league in fielding an awfully good team.
Of course, the goal is always to have the weakest and most barren roster of injured and suspended players as possible. The fact that the Steelers are still considered to be as well-off as they are currently is a testament to the quality of the top end of their roster. But they truly have some talent on the sidelines, some of which will return later in the season to supplement what they already have.
The list is headlined, of course, by running back Le’Veon Bell, a 2014 first-team All-Pro running back who is serving a three-game suspension to start the season. While they will have the good fortune of getting him back in a few weeks, his unique abilities are simply difficult to replicate, even with multiple players.
Another headliner on this list is obviously wide receiver Martavis Bryant, who is serving an indefinite suspension that will extend through at least the entirety of the 2016 season. He is, in fact, currently not even regarded as on the roster or any sort of list, but his rights are retained by the Steelers and his contract will toll should he be reinstated next year.
Yet more offensive firepower sitting on the sidelines comes in the form of free agent tight end Ladarius Green, whom the Steelers signed to replace Heath Miller, though the two players are not much alike in their skill sets, as Green is much more oriented toward a vertical passing game, and not regarded nearly as well as a blocker.
Green has never practiced yet with the team going all the way back to OTAs as he continues to recover from, at least, offseason ankle surgery, perhaps with other complications mixed in. He will miss at least the first six games on the Physically Unable to Perform List, though there was some encouragement that he would be ready to return by then.
The roster took another major hit when starting outside linebacker Bud Dupree was placed on injured reserve, but the hope in his case is that he will be able to return at some point during the second half of the season after he undergoes surgery to repair a sports hernia that has sidelined him almost all offseason.
Add in cornerback Senquez Golson, who was supposed to be their starting slot cornerback, and is actually technically the only player named on the 53-man roster—and even Bruce Gradkowski and Jerald Hawkins—to the list of the notably sidelined.
The good news is that most of these cases are temporary states, and the majority of them should return by the end of the season. But it is certainly not the way that any team would want to start off the year.