Now that the 2020 regular season 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 are seeing over the course of the season as it plays out. Who is making plays? Who is missing them? Who is losing snaps? Who is struggling to stay on the field?
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. 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 season as we move forward.
Player: OL Stefen Wisniewski
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The veteran offensive lineman began practicing today for the first time since suffering a pectoral injury in the season opener, beginning a 21-day window for him to be promoted from the injured reserve list—an obvious indication that the team believes he will be able to return soon.
The Steelers suffered back-to-back blows to their offensive line depth in the season opener when, on consecutive plays, first Stefen Wisniewski and then Zach Banner suffered injuries. Banner, who won the starting right tackle job, suffered a torn ACL, ending his season. Wisniewski, who was starting already in place of the injured David DeCastro, suffered a more short-term ailment.
It was, however, an injury significant enough that the Steelers felt they should put him on injured reserve, which, for the 2020 season, requires that a player only be there for three games (not including bye weeks).
Still, it wasn’t clear just how soon the Steelers felt he might be able to return. He has been out for four weeks, going on a month now since his injury, but the fact that he has returned to practice, even if he is not on the cusp of being promoted, means he is making real progress.
It is possible that he is promoted back to the 53-man roster this week, but it could also come next week, or the week after. That will provide the Steelers with much more insulation from injury, even if it is likely that rookie Kevin Dotson has replaced him as the primary reserve guard.
Wisniewski is still most valuable as the backup center, which is currently the first-year J.C. Hassenauer, who played the first snaps of his career at the end of Sunday’s game when center Maurkice Pouncey had to come out of the game.
The good news is that Pouncey was a full go at practice yesterday and looks like he’s on track to not miss any time. otherwise, unless Wisniewski were to be promoted back to the roster this week, that would have meant Hassenauer making his first career start.