Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: TE Vance McDonald
Stock Value: Up
Considering the expectations coming into yesterday’s press conference, the fact that head coach Mike Tomlin considers veteran tight end Vance McDonald to be questionable to play for the Steeler son Monday night, even if in a limited capacity, was a breath of fresh air.
When you hear that McDonald has his shoulder in a sling, and then the Steelers make a trade for a tight end, there is a natural tendency for negative thoughts to enter your head. The team did place a tight end on the Reserve/Injured List yesterday, but it was instead his backup, Xavier Grimble.
The starter suffered an injury in the first half on a high pass down the field from Mason Rudolph. As the ball sailed over his head, he made an effort to try to reach it, in vain. But it left his midsection open to take a shot from the defender in coverage, which also caused him to land awkwardly. He left the game.
Obviously, McDonald has a lengthy injury history, even if he came into yesterday’s game having played in 18 consecutive contests. Regardless of how one might be inclined to assign blame, the simple reality is that he has been sidelined for health reasons as a fairly common occurrence over the course of his career.
But while he is dealing with an injury, it doesn’t at all sound to be one that is very serious, considering that Tomlin told reporters during his press conference yesterday that he was optimistic about the tight end’s availability.
He did say that McDonald could be limited in some ways if he does dress in terms of what they would ask him to do. They would almost assuredly limit what they expect of him as a blocker and perhaps use him almost exclusively to run routes.
But that’s a far sight better than seeing him stand next to Randy Fichtner in a sweatshirt.