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Devil’s Advocate: Whole Lotta Rosie

You may recall for the past several offseasons that I ran an article series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take. I used it to explore different issues and topics the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing and took a positive or negative approach, examining each side in a separate article. This is essentially the same idea behind that, only condensed into one article for every topic.

In this version of the idea, I’ll be playing the Devil’s Advocate for both sides of the issue, looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios in trying to find the range of likely outcomes of what is likely to happen for the Steelers relating to whatever topic the article is covering.

When it comes to the process of trying to construct a championship roster, the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts, and several ways to acquire said parts. There are a lot of things that can go right or wrong in not always predictable ways, so I think it’s helpful to try to look at issues by seeking out the boundaries of the likely positive or negative results.

Topic: Will fullback Roosevelt Nix see more or less time on offense during the 2017 season?

I believe this is an interesting but difficult question to consider. Very few teams in the NFL make great use of the fullback position anymore in the wake of the proliferation of the 11 personnel formation that utilizes wide receivers, but the Steelers have used it a bit more since stumbling upon Roosevelt Nix two years ago.

Still, he only played 100 snaps on offense last season during the year. Of course, he missed the first several games of the year while dealing with a back injury, which is going to affect the numbers for extremely obvious reasons.

On the other hand, the bulk of his playing time was skewed toward the end of the season. With the exception of an outlier against the Bills in which he logged nearly 30 snaps, if memory serves, he was averaging something in the vicinity of 10 to 15 snaps per game late in the year.

Given that statistic, you could safely project a season snap count for Nix somewhere in the area of 150 on the conservative end and perhaps around 250, or even more, on the less conservative end of the spectrum.

The increase in the usage of the fullback position late in the year, however, had less to do with Nix getting healthy and more to do with an emphasis on running the ball, and that coincided with injuries at the wide receiver position.

The Steelers are in far better shape at wide receiver heading into 2017 than they were going into  last season, it is safe to say, so it’s hard to imagine them committing many unnecessary snaps to a fullback. It’s entirely possible that he sees even less playing time than he did last year even if he stays healthy the entire season.

Which side do you lean closer toward?

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