If you’re a Pittsburgh Steeler who made the practice squad, congratulations. Just don’t get too comfortable. Kevin Colbert and company could shake things up very soon.
Clearly, Colbert expressed a displeasure in the NFL getting rid of the 75 man cutdown rule. His main reason, as he’s repeated, is being unable to work free agents out before the season started. A valid criticism of the change and one that is likely to increase the number of roster moves post Week One.
Tuesdays are the typical day in the week for free agents to come in for tryouts. Without the cutdown, this is the first chance for each front office to get a look at these guys. Some will impress and ultimately be signed to the team.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a massive change in the ten man taxi squad. In 2015, the Steelers made four changes to that group after the first week. And three of the four wound up being wise decisions.
On September 7th, the Steelers signed Matt Feiler, Xavier Grimble, Fitzgerald Toussaint, and Isaiah Burse. Three of those, obviously, Burse is the exception, are still on the team in some capacity. And the four the Steelers released, Harold Spears, Antonio Johnson, Dominique Brown, and Jarrod West, I’m pretty sure aren’t even still in the league.
So who is the most vulnerable? Wide receiver Justin Thomas and center Kyle Friend seem like the most likely. Thomas was really only signed after Demarcus Ayers rejected his practice squad offer, packing his bags for New England. And I’m guessing the Steelers wanted to keep Brian Mihalik but he was claimed by the Detroit Lions. Still needing a 10th offensive linemen to round out that squad, Friend was the next man up.
Who their replacements could be, I obviously have no idea. But the workout circuit is part of an NFL week, just like Mike Tomlin’s press conference or Saturday walkthrough. It creates a team’s emergency list in case of injuries, players they know are healthy, in-shape, and have a feel for their skillset. But it’s also to make sure the team has the best 63 on their roster possible. I imagine you’ll see some upgrades in the near future.