We are at the point of the NFL calendar where a bunch of people’s stories are going to come to an end. When the Pittsburgh Steelers trim their roster down from 91, 38 people will lose their jobs. A subset of those will be re-signed to the practice squad.
Wide receiver Diontae Spencer is hoping not to be one of the 38 who hear from the Turk later this week, and that will depend a lot on what he is able to do on the field tonight. Even if he isn’t able to crack the roster, though, he will at least have won peace of mind.
“At the end of the day, no matter what happens, I can always look back and say I tried it and if I didn’t try it, I feel like I would have a huge burden on me saying, ‘what if?’ and I didn’t want to have that in my head”, he told Will Graves of the Associated Press earlier this week.
He added, “I feel like no matter what it was the best opportunity for me”.
Spencer originally signed with the Steelers early in the offseason as a Reserve/Future player. At 27 years old, he has never come close to a roster before in the US, but he has been a successful player in the Canadian Football League for several years.
It’s not often that CFL players, many of whom are Americans who failed to make the roster, are able to make it back into the NFL after failing to do so on their first attempt. For every Cameron Wake, there are many more Shawn Lemons.
While Spencer is happy with the opportunity that the Steelers have provided him, the reality is that they do have depth at the wide receiver position that is making it very difficult for him to have an opportunity to crack the roster.
JuJu Smith-Schuster is at the head of the pack, naturally, with Donte Moncrief, James Washington, and Diontae Johnson also locks to make the team. The rest of the core group consists of Eli Rogers and Ryan Switzer as veterans of the roster and Johnny Holton, plus Spencer. You can include Tevin Jones in there if you want, as well, but he has fallen off in recent weeks.
As it concerns Spencer, he will have to show that he can be a dynamic return man while also contributing on offense, because Switzer is a player they are already comfortable being able to do both at a satisfactory level.
He has shown flashes of that ability as a returner, but has yet to make much of an impact as a pass-catcher, so if he can break out in that department tonight, he will have a chance. If not, he may find himself back up north.