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Who Are You Again? A Re-Introduction To The 53 Amid Injuries On Offense

Hello, nice to meet you, I’m a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

No, really, I am.

Okay, maybe things haven’t grown quite that dire yet, but it is pretty remarkable how much the face of this 53-man roster has changed since the beginning of the season. Chiefly through injuries, a large portion of the roster has had to be reshaped, sometimes dramatically in certain areas. Let’s take it position by position, starting with the offensive side of the ball.

Quarterback:

Opening Day (3): Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Joshua Dobbs

Current (3): Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges, Paxton Lynch

No position has been more dramatically reshaped, qualitatively or quantitatively. With Ben Roethlisberger on the Reserve/Injured List, Rudolph is thrust into the starting role, and the results have been, let’s say, mixed. Dobbs was traded a week into the season, but that probably wouldn’t have happened a week later. After the Dobbs trade, Hodges was re-signed to the practice squad, then promoted with Roethlisberger’s injury. Lynch was subsequently signed to the practice squad, but called up when Rudolph suffered a concussion.

Running Back:

Opening Day (4): James Conner, Benny Snell, Jaylen Samuels, Roosevelt Nix

Current (5): James Conner, Benny Snell, Jaylen Samuels, Trey Edmunds, Kerrith Whyte

Another position hit by injuries, but only one season-ender to the fullback. With Conner and Snell banged up, Edmunds has become a permanent fixture. When both were out, Tony Brooks-James was promoted from the practice squad. This past week, he was released and replaced with Whyte, who makes his Steelers debut against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Wide Receiver:

Opening Day (6): JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, Johnny Holton, Donte Moncrief, Ryan Switzer

Current (6): JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, Johnny Holton, Tevin Jones, Deon Cain

Donte Moncrief was released halfway through the season, partially because of compensatory pick concerns. After Switzer was placed on the Reserve/Injured List, Jones was called up from the practice squad, which still left them with five. With both Smith-Schuster and Johnson suffering concussions in the last game, the team signed second-year Cain off the Colts’ practice squad.

Tight End:

Opening Day (3): Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble, Zach Gentry

Current (3): Vance McDonald, Nick Vannett, Zach Gentry

The same number, but a pretty substantial difference. Gentry has been a healthy scratch almost all year, but Vannett, acquired for a fifth-round pick—a steeper cost than what they got McDonald for—has been a fixture as the number two, an overall solid blocker.

Offensive Line:

Opening Day (9): Alejandro Villanueva, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Matt Feiler, B.J. Finney, Zach Banner, Chukwuma Okorafor, Fred Johnson

Current (9): Alejandro Villanueva, Ramon Foster, [Maurkice Pouncey], David DeCastro, Matt Feiler, B.J. Finney, Zach Banner, Chukwuma Okorafor, Patrick Morris

Arguably the most stable group on the offensive side of the ball, with the only change being at the back end, with Johnson claimed off waivers when they needed a roster spot. They’ll see him in Cincinnati.

The caveat above is of course Pouncey, about to serve a two-game suspension. Morris was called up to take his place. Depending upon how injuries at other positions shape up (namely at running back), he could stick, as Lynch and Edmunds have.

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