The next snap the Pittsburgh Steelers use with a fullback will be their first of 2019. And if that happens this weekend, odds are good someone other than Roosevelt Nix will be out there.
Based on what Mike Tomlin said at his Tuesday presser, Nix’s knee injury suffered during Sunday night’s loss appears to be the most severe injury the team is dealing with right now.
“He has a knee injury that’s being evaluated,” Tomlin told the media. “He may miss this game and another or two.”
So that begs the question. If not Nix, then who? Tomlin said the team will determine a plan.
“Well, we’re just at the beginning stages of discussing that. If we need a fullback, there will be somebody representing that position on Sunday. I assure you of that.”
Tomlin rattled off some obvious options to replace Nix’s role.
“We have some candidates. We spent some time as we always do looking at other options and areas where we don’t have a lot of depth. The fullback position as an area that we don’t have a lot of depth so we’re not opposed to looking at other people. We spent some time looking at defenders in the spring and summer, but we are also capable of looking at and utilizing tight ends which we’ve done in the past quite regularly.”
A tight end would be the most logical substitution. If Nix were to miss, Zach Gentry has a good chance of being active for his first game. Being 6’8 isn’t great for leverage at FB so perhaps the team would look at Xavier Grimble in that role for a few plays. There’s always the chance the team goes off the beaten path and looks at someone on defense. Tyler Matakevich played tight end and running back in high school, at one point averaging 250 yards per game for St. Joseph. Here’s a clip of him busting out of a few tackles on his way to a 54 yard touchdown.
Of course, the Steelers could opt to not use a fullback at all. Randy Fichtner uses one even less than Todd Haley did so losing Nix isn’t going to change the gameplan very much. The bigger loss will be felt on special teams, where Nix is a four-phase player and key cog on that unit.