Technically speaking, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie outside linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, who was placed on injured reserve shortly after the final roster cuts were made, is currently eligible to return to practice for the first time since the regular season began. The Toledo product, however, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he has not been informed of any plans to get him on the practice field as of yet.
That should not be incredibly surprising. For one thing, they are currently on a bye week and will not even be practicing later this week. It actually would not make a great deal of sense to start his clock now, even though, as he told Chris Adamski, he is “ready to go today, hands down”.
For another thing, it’s not as though there is an obvious need for him to get on the 53-man roster, nor is there an obvious game day helmet for him—or even a roster spot to begin with. While the Steelers only have three true outside linebackers on the roster at the moment, they would have to cut somebody such as Brian Allen, Marcus Allen, or L.J. Fort in order to make room for him.
And they might already have to move somebody off of the roster later this season, perhaps as early as next week, in order to accommodate a hypothetical return of running back Le’Veon Bell.
Remember, Cameron Sutton was on injured reserve last season for the majority of the year as a rookie third-round cornerback. Even though he was physically capable of returning to practice much sooner than he actually did, that only ultimately came about after Joe Haden suffered a long-term injury in the second half of the season.
If no need arises for Adeniyi on the roster, then there is a more than reasonable chance that he never takes a snap in practice until next year, instead just being left on injured reserve while T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, and Anthony Chickillo handle the outside linebacker responsibilities.
I understand that that is disappointing for those who were very excited about his potential—and I am excited about his future as well—but the truth is that he stood a good chance of watching from the sidelines anyway.
Just look at the other college free agent rookie linebacker, Matthew Thomas. Despite all the hoopla, and even provided an injury opportunity, he has only seen four defensive snaps so far this year, which came at the end of a blowout win after Fort got injured.
“I don’t know how it works”, Adeniyi admitted about the return process from injured reserve. “I don’t really know the politics of it all. So, I’m just kind of waiting for somebody to come and tell me”. He added that he will continue to do what he has been doing, and “whenever I get called up, I’ll be ready to go”.