2020 South Side Questions: Is Wisniewski Move A Vote Of Confidence For Derwin Gray?

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: Was the decision to waive Stefen Wisniewski, at least in part, a vote of confidence in Derwin Gray?

Although he was not waived with an injury designation, Stefen Wisniewski was let go yesterday after failing to participate during the week of practice last week except for limited work on Friday. This was shortly after he was activated to the 53-man roster from injured reserve.

The Steelers had to activate him or leave him on injured reserve for the rest of the season, because they had already begun the 21-day window, which begins when they declare him for practice. Wisniewski had not been listed on the past three weeks’ practice reports, but that is presumably because he was still on injured reserve.

Was he waived because the Steelers are not comfortable with where he is physically and believe that his roster spot is better reserved for a healthy lineman like Derwin Gray until he’s healthy? Or perhaps, did they simply decide that they like what they are getting out of Gray and are ready to move on with their young depth?

That also includes rookie Kevin Dotson and first-year J.C. Hassenauer, who is now the only other player on the roster behind Maurkice Pouncey who is trained as a center. Matt Feiler has had a very minimal amount of work there as well, so I suppose he is the emergency center now.

If this is ultimately a decision based on quality of play, then this has to be a vote of confidence in Gray, a 2019 seventh-round draft pick who spent his rookie season on the practice squad. In fact, he began there this season, but was promoted after week one when Wisniewski was first put on injured reserve.

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