Now that the 2020 offseason has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, 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 season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
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: RB Wendell Smallwood
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: Smallwood suffered a shoulder injury in practice on Sunday night, and though Mike Tomlin said that he did not expect the injury to be serious, any time missed would be a huge blow to his chances of making the 53-man roster.
Injuries are ubiquitous to football, whether it’s in games or in practices. As tight end Eric Ebron said yesterday, being at 100 percent health went out the window as soon as training camp opened. Your body takes a beating and it doesn’t stop until the season is over.
Of course, it’s not the cumulative battery that sidelines you, or at least rarely does, but rather the more sudden and often more serious injuries. Over the weekend, veteran running back Wendell Smallwood went down with a shoulder injury during practice.
That’s currently all we know about his status, but if it does cause him to miss time, then he is going to lose ground when it comes to competing for a spot on the 53-man roster, especially since he is at a position where the Steelers already have three players they are sure to keep—and where they often don’t keep a fourth.
With several viable options for a fourth this season including Smallwood, Jaylen Samuels, and Kerrith Whyte, however, it does seem rather plausible, even likely, that there will be a roster spot for which Smallwood and others are competing, noting also his ability tot contribute as a four-phase special teams player.
While he is a player of experience and could likely be relied upon if put into a game setting—they have dropped veteran running backs in off the street and played them in postseason games before, albeit in an emergency—he has legitimate competition, and any step backwards is going to hinder his chances, plain and simple. For his sake, here’s to hoping that he is back out on the field for practice today.