The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.
How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? Who is sitting out due to injury?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: How much will Olasunkanmi Adeniyi play against the Miami Dolphins on Monday night?
I think this is an interesting question, because the answer depends on a couple different variables. And those variables still aren’t clear right now.
For one thing, we don’t know with absolute certainty, even though he is trending in that direction, that T.J. Watt will be able to start as he recovers from an abdominal injury. And if he does start, we don’t know how extensively he will play, and what sort of limitations the team might place on him.
Then there’s the other big factor, which is the absence of Anthony Chickillo. This matters both for the immediacy of the moment and potentially for the future as well. Chickillo is on the Commissioner’s Exempt List right now. Currently, we don’t know if he’ll ever play another snap again, and neither do the Steelers.
So you have a starter who may not play, and if he does, may be limited, and your top backup at the position is out of the equation. Chances are good that Adeniyi will play the most he’s ever played in one game, with these factors in mind, but that’s only about a dozen snaps.
The Steelers could also see this game as an opportunity to grow Adeniyi into a larger role, if he is to be the number three outside linebacker going forward now that Chickillo is gone, and potentially for good. If they can get a lead over the Dolphins, for example, they may be more inclined to get him extra work he might not get in a more competitive game, with an eye toward being more prepared to rotate in during future games.