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 Vance McDonald play for the Steelers in the season opener?
There has been an awful lot of attention paid to one offensive starter that we pretty much know at this point is not going to be there on opening day, but there is another starter who is also pretty important on the offensive side of the ball whose status for the game is in question.
Veteran tight end Vance McDonald was hoping to have a full offseason with the Steelers this time around after being traded to the team late August of last year, but even that plan went awry after he suffered a foot injury early in training camp that sidelined him all the way until Wednesday.
He was a partial participant in practice on Wednesday, but told reporters that he did not take the field yesterday, after putting stress on his foot for the first time in about a month. If he is able to be a full participant today, then he is sure to play as long as he doesn’t suffer a setback when he wakes up in the morning, but failing to practice yesterday is not encouraging.
Without McDonald, the Steelers have only Jesse James and Xavier Grimble at the position, neither of whom are particularly flashy, with the latter coming back from surgery on his hand, though he told reporters he has been catching passes for weeks already. He did not participate in the final preseason games.
In his only game in which he received a full workload last season, McDonald recorded double-digit receptions for triple-digit yardage. While that would not be a weekly phenomenon, the Steelers know that is the sort of threat he can be, and why they sought him out a year ago. Needless to say, they would love to get him on the field.