While it was not necessarily much of a shock, it was a bit disappointing to see the week of practice go by, ending today, and not expecting to see Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Ladarius Green take the field. Green, of course, was their big free agent acquisition, but has spent the first six weeks of the season on the Physically Unable to Perform List.
As we talked about yesterday, there had been some optimism earlier on expressed about the potential of Green being ready to practice by the time the six-week period that is required that he sit out while on the PUP List is over, but for whatever reason, he did not return to practice, and, obviously, is not going to play on Sunday.
But it might not be that much longer if certain reports are to be believed. Green himself has more or less said that he feels good and is ready to return to practice, but is going to heed the decision of the coaching staff in that regard.
According to Jeremy Fowler for ESPN, Green is expected to hear from head coach Mike Tomlin by Sunday about whether or not it is in the plans for him to return to practice during the Steelers’ Bye week. The tight end also said that he hopes to practice.
According to Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider, Green “has been cleared medically and is on the same page as the coach”. Wexell also added that it is offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s “expectation…that Green will practice next week”.
Wexell also wrote, perhaps partly speculatively, that a motivating factor in the decision to hold Green out of practice during his first week of eligibility to return is the fact that he was not going to be able to return to the field on Sunday, so they didn’t want to take away practice reps from the group of players who will be suiting up.
Of course, there is some logic to that thought process, especially when you consider the fact that the Steelers actually have a young tight end group overall. None of the current group was with the team before 2015, and two of them are in their first or second seasons.
As Wexell also wrote in his Tweet, this especially makes sense given that the Bye week is just right around the corner. Allowing Green to begin practicing during that time to get his first dip of the toes into the water may be a good idea.
Of course, this is all assuming that everything about the situation is more or less as is being reported, and, as we know, in spite of Tomlin’s insistence recently to the contrary, the Steelers are not the most transparent group in the NFL when it comes to injuries. But at least there is some potential reason for optimism that Green may be able to return to practice next week, and to the field perhaps a few weeks after that.