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: Will the Steelers add an outside linebacker from outside of the organization before the season opener?
The consensus expectation heading into yesterday was that free agent signing Morgan Burnett was going to be the player the Steelers would put on injured reserve, a move that was anticipated with safety Nat Berhe having already announced that he had re-signed with the team.
With Berhe’s addition, that left the team with six safeties, which is seemingly, um, excessive, so with Burnett dealing with an injury, many assumed that it might be more significant than thought. After some dots being connected, it seemed fairly reasonable to assume he would be going on injured reserve.
Instead, it was rookie inside linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, whose move to injured reserve means the Steelers only have three outside linebackers on the roster. this is not without precedent, as they began the 2014 season with only Jarvis Jones, Jason Worilds, and Arthur Moats (with only four inside linebackers).
But that doesn’t mean they will stick with three. We don’t know what waiver claims the team put in over the weekend, but we do know that they were not awarded any players off waivers. It’s not surprising that nobody they wanted made it to them considering that they were 28th in the pecking order, however.
The only edge rushers on the roster are Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt, and Anthony Chickillo. Watt missed the entire preseason and has only recently resumed practicing. Neither Dupree nor Chickiillo flashed much in the preseason, though Dupree’s playing time was somewhat limited.
Could they be anticipating help from rookie inside linebacker Matthew Thomas if they needed an extra body off the edge? He recorded a strip sack from the outside in the preseason finale, and the team also used him extensively off the edge at the end of the opener to get a look at him. Or they could acquire a player, either off the street or via trade.