The Pittsburgh Steelers are in a bit of a troubling position, and one they would prefer not to be in, when it comes to the defensive line right now. The team elected not to replace defensive end Cameron Heyward’s roster spot with another defensive lineman, so they have been operating for the past three games with only five defensive linemen in total.
It’s looking more and more as though they will also not have Javon Hargrave on Sunday, as he remains in the concussion protocol, and if he does not practice later today, then we will pretty much have our answer as to whether or not he will be capably of participating in the team’s next game.
In such an event, the Steelers will, obviously, be down to just four defensive linemen, the only above average player in the group being Stephon Tuitt. Free agent signing Ricardo Mathews will be asked to take on his most significant role of the season, and much will be asked of Daniel McCullers as the lone big body as well. L.T. Walton, simply by virtue of being the fourth guy, will no doubt be asked to see some time, in addition.
It would seem rather unlikely that the Steelers enter Sunday’s game dressing only four defensive linemen, which means that the odds favor them promoting a player from the practice squad—most likely Caushaud Lyons, a 2015 undrafted free agent whom they claimed off waivers from the Buccaneers last season during the final roster cuts.
Lyons spent a few games on the 53-man roster after he was claimed, but did not dress, and was later moved to the practice squad. That is where he has spent all of his time since then, but that could change tomorrow or on Saturday.
In the event of his promotion, it goes without saying that another player will have to be moved off the 53-man roster in order to make room. One would think that they would have a ready-made solution for that problem, since they have two kickers on the roster, but Chris Boswell has not yet practiced.
If Boswell is not ready to play on Sunday—and perhaps even if he is not—then Randy Bullock will obviously have to still be here. He has already earned his pay for the week whether or not he is on the roster for the game, in addition.
So if Bullock is not the casualty, then it obviously has to come from another position, which is obviously not what the Steelers were looking for. They already ended up losing the player that they waived in order to sign Bullock, and would not like to see a repeat of that.
While there are a few solid options that the coaching staff can choose from to waive a player in the hopes of retaining him by either moving him to the practice squad or re-signing him to the 53-man roster when Bullock or Lyons (or another lineman) is waived, the preference would be to avoid the situation altogether.