2020 South Side Questions: Who Would Be The Steelers’ Backup Fullback?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.

Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.

As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion

Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.

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: Who is the backup fullback, both in terms of in-game situations and in the event that Derek Watt actually misses time?

One of Derek Watt’s most coveted qualities that the Steelers were attracted to this offseason had been his durability, but he suffered a hamstring injury in the second quarter of his third game with his new team. Whether or not he actually ends up missing time, it calls into question who would play fullback in the event that he were unavailable.

In an in-game injury, my assumption would be that the Steelers use tight end Vance McDonald as a lead blocker out of the backfield. It’s something that they have done before even under normal circumstances, though sparingly. I could also see them employ a two-halfback backfield at times, the way the Cleveland Browns do with their two backs.

If Watt misses a game, however, I believe that they would consider the possibility of elevating Trey Edmunds from the practice squad. Not only would he step into Watt’s special teams role, they have already used him for a handful of snaps at fullback last season after Roosevelt Nix was injured.

Of course, they would only be able to elevate Edmunds to the active roster for two games from the practice squad. If they needed him for more than two games, he would have to be put on the 53-man roster. If they were to need him for three or more games, however, one would hope they would know this immediately and would be able to place the injured party—presumably Watt—on injured reserve, rather than subject a player to waivers.

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