Perhaps it’s a good thing that the Pittsburgh Steelers started rookie outside linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi’s practice clock when they did, with starter Bud Dupree suffering a mild pectoral tear that he is evidently going to attempt to play through.
Even if Dupree’s injury is not deemed serious, the fact of the matter is that the Steelers are poorly-insulated at the position, having only three outside linebackers on the roster. in addition to Dupree and fellow starter T.J. Watt, who briefly left Sunday’s game with a wrist injury, there is backup Anthony Chickillo, who suffered an ankle injury the previous week, but was able to play in the next game.
In other words, every one of their outside linebackers on the 53-man roster has had at least a minor injury scare over the course of the past two games. That should serve as a wake-up as to how quickly things can change. Not that anybody should be expecting a rookie undrafted free agent who has only practiced for two weeks to be any kind of savior, but hey, you need contributors. Especially willing ones.
Adeniyi suffered a minor hamstring injury at the end of a slate of preseason games that saw him record three sacks, including two strip sacks. He fully believed he would be ready to practice as soon as possible, but the team held him back until last week.
“Regardless of if it’s a hard practice or not, I still go hard because whether they got me on the scout team or special teams or getting reps, I’m doing something every time”, he told Chris Adamski at the end of the week. “So I am just trying to go as hard as I can to show them I still got it”.
We will know likely quite soon whether or not the Steelers intend to activate him to the 53-man roster ahead of tomorrow’s night game against the Los Angeles Chargers. “I’m confident. I feel good about it”, Adeniyi said. “So if they hit me with the news, I will be ready. If not, I will be ready next week. So we will see”.
When a player is designated for return on injured reserve, he has a 21-day window open in which he can practice before the team has to decide either to activate him to the 53-man roster or keep him on injured reserve. It will be a week from Tuesday that he started practicing 21 days prior.
The outside linebacker position has produced 15 and a half sacks so far this season. Watt has 10 of the mon his own, while Dupree has four and a half. Chickillo also has one, so they will need four and a half as a group over the final five weeks to hit 20, which is a typical target for the position. While Adeniyi be able to add a sack or two to that tally?