The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are in a critical portion of the offseason in which the preseason takes center stage, where some of the biggest and most important questions get answered, especially in terms of personnel.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Who, if anybody, is going to be moved to injured reserve today to make room for Nat Berhe?
We know already that safety Nat Berhe is re-signing with the Steelers. He announced the contract himself, and it will in all likelihood be made official today. It’s also overwhelmingly likely that the reason Berhe was chosen as the player to release was because he was the easiest to re-sign as a vested veteran who does not have to clear waivers.
And why would this be necessary? The logical reason is that somebody is going on injured reserve that they want to bring back later in the year, since it would require that player be on the initial 53-man roster to receive the return designation. Steven Johnson was this player in each of the past two years with Bud Dupree in 2016 and Cameron Sutton being the players moved to the reserve list.
So who is it going to be this year? As indicated by previous examples, the player moved doesn’t necessarily have to be from the same position. Johnson, an inside linebacker, was moved for a cornerback last year, and an outside linebacker the year before.
But with Berhe re-signing, that would give the Steelers a silly six safeties on the 53-man roster, which I would have to imagine is incredibly rare, even if they intend to make liberal use of the moneybacker role on defense this year.
So generally the smart money has been on Morgan Burnett, who has missed the past few weeks after participating in the first two preseason games. That would be unfortunate, given that he is a starter, but it would also explain a lot.
He’s not the only possibility, though. Mike Hilton is another member of the secondary that is injured. There are two tight ends who are injured. There may even be an injury that we’re not familiar with. Whatever the answer is, we should learn it today.